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Douglas Andrews / Aug. 13, 2020

What's Andrew Cuomo Afraid Of?

The governor's COVID-probe aversion says a lot about his leadership and character.

One thing we know about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: The buck doesn’t stop with him. If it did, he wouldn’t be afraid of an investigation into the mystery surrounding the number of nursing home coronavirus deaths in his state.

But he is afraid, and he made it clear on Monday when a reporter asked him point-blank: “Would you support an independent investigation in order to bridge some of this mutual suspicion about partisanship getting into a better public understanding of what exactly happened in group-home facilities and nursing homes?”

“No, I wouldn’t do an investigation,” said Cuomo. “Whether or not it’s political, everybody can make that decision for themselves. I think you’d have to be blind to realize it’s not political. … It’s kind of incredible.”

It’s incredible all right. So much so that even the Associated Press smells a rat. “New York’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, already among the highest in the nation, could actually be a significant undercount,” reports the AP. “Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there.”

It’s incredible, too, how nursing home residents in the Empire State can be on death’s door due to coronavirus, and yet they somehow aren’t counted merely because they’re whisked away to a hospital. Why, it’s as if someone were trying to cook the books to cover up a murderous policy that kept shoving the state’s coronavirus-positive elderly folks back into nursing homes, where the deadly contagion could spread like wildfire.

Cuomo finally rescinded that disastrous order on May 10, but how many lives had been unnecessarily lost by then? New York, incidentally, trails only New Jersey in terms of deaths as a percentage of state population. As the New York Post reports, these two adjacent states, with their Democrat leadership, have failed the coronavirus test.

As it stands, New York’s official nursing home death toll is just over 6,600. But, as the AP notes, “State health department surveys show 21,000 nursing home beds are lying empty this year, 13,000 more than expected — an increase of almost double the official state nursing home death tally. While some of that increase can be attributed to fewer new admissions and people pulling their loved ones out, it suggests that many others who aren’t there anymore died.”

The point is, no one believes that death toll of 6,600. Well, no one except maybe Cuomo’s dullard brother Chris. He’s the lesser Cuomo, the Fredo to Andrew’s Michael, the CNN evening anchor who kept inviting his big brother onto the prime-time air, where they’d disgracefully yuk it up about all manner of unserious things amid a deadly serious pandemic.

“Chris Cuomo’s employers have decided to let his bad family comedy routine play out night after night,” wrote Reason’s Robby Soave in May, “as the brothers fake-argue about which one is mom’s favorite, who would win in a fight, and where the tomato sauce recipe went. Some viewers might appreciate an occasional light-hearted break from the constant stream of grim COVID-19 news, but this is getting ridiculous.”

As for Governor Cuomo’s claim that it’s a “political conspiracy that the deaths in nursing homes were preventable,” Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) isn’t buying it. Scalise, who leads a House subcommittee on the COVID crisis, said in a letter to Cuomo last month that “blame-shifting, name-calling, and half-baked data manipulations will not make the facts or the questions they raise go away.”

Let’s hope Scalise and his subcommittee can get to the bottom of this. Cuomo may have an aversion to transparency, but, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once put it, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

(Visit our comprehensive CV19 Pandemic response and recovery page to review our comprehensive timeline on government and political actions related to the pandemic, and see our related pages.

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