An investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s treatment of nursing homes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has been launched by the FBI and the Eastern District of New York US Attorney’s office, sources said.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, the investigation investigates the conduct of the Cuomo administration relating to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities after thousands of their residents died from COVID-19.
According to The Times Union, which first announced its presence, the inquiry is concentrating in its early stages on some senior members of Cuomo’s coronavirus task force.
In a since-rescinded March 25 State Health Department directive requiring nursing homes to admit infected patients to be released from hospitals, Cuomo’s administration has faced fierce criticism.
Critics also suggested that the Health Department directive, along with the spread of the virus, led to the state’s high nursing home death toll.
Last month, when state Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report saying the state probably undercounted the death toll of the nursing home COVID-19 by more than 50 percent, the debate was heightened.
The discrepancy, the report said, was the result of the state not revealing how many residents of nursing homes died in hospitals.
Some nursing homes apparently underreported resident COVID-19 deaths to the state were also discovered by the AG report.
After the survey, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, a member of the state coronavirus task force, eventually issued updated figures showing that as of Jan. 19, the cumulative number was 12,743. Just a day ago, only 8,711 deaths in nursing homes were officially recognised by the DOH.
Last week, the turmoil continued when The Post reported exclusively that the governor’s office withheld the state legislature’s nursing home death figures.
DeRosa, Cuomo’s top deputy, secretly revealed to Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld the data on concerns that federal prosecutors would “use it against us.”
DeRosa, also a member of the state coronavirus task force, told the lawmakers that the administration “froze,” citing an investigation into the state by the Trump-era Department of Justice.
DeRosa’s bombshell revelation led to calls by politicians on both sides of the aisle for an investigation.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi, reacting to the news of the federal investigation said, “As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”