The FBI along with the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn have begun a preliminary investigation into the way New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration handled data about Covid-19 nursing home deaths, The Albany Times Union reported Wednesday.
Cuomo is dealing with accusations of underreporting nursing home deaths despite early praise for his leadership when his state became the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic.
In recent weeks, the administration revealed that 15,000 long-term care residents have died, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed. The revelation prompted an inquiry into the discrepancy.
“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to,” a senior advisor for the governor, Rich Azzopardi, said Wednesday night, according to the report.
Last month, state Attorney General Letitia James released a damning report that said the state Health Department underreported the Covid-19 death toll at nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.
And last week, Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, said that the state held off on releasing the fuller death count in August because of fears that President Donald Trump would use the information against Cuomo.
On Monday, the governor acknowledged that “things should have been done differently” and insisted that “lessons were learned.”
“In retrospect, should we have given more priority to fulfilling information requests? In my opinion, yes. And that’s what created the void,” Cuomo said. “I just want to make sure people know these are the facts: Everything that could have been done was done.”
Most of New York’s deaths came in the early days of the pandemic, when public health officials were trying to figure out how the coronavirus was spreading.