They knew exactly what the truth was. And they knew exactly what they were doing when they falsified the data. And they knew exactly why.
Andrew Cuomo’s hands are soaked in this blood, and the loyalists around him weren’t about to let that be known if they could possibly help it. If that meant blatantly falsifying nursing home death records, then darn it, that’s what they were going to do:
The July report, which examined the factors that led to the spread of the virus in nursing homes, focused only on residents who died inside long-term-care facilities, leaving out those who had died in hospitals after becoming sick in nursing homes. As a result, the report said 6,432 nursing-home residents had died—a significant undercount of the death toll attributed to the state’s most vulnerable population, the people said. The initial version of the report said nearly 10,000 nursing-home residents had died in New York by July last year, one of the people said.
Advertisement - story continues below
The changes Mr. Cuomo’s aides and health officials made to the nursing-home report, which haven’t been previously disclosed, reveal that the state possessed a fuller accounting of out-of-facility nursing-home deaths as early as the summer. The Health Department resisted calls by state and federal lawmakers, media outlets and others to release the data for another eight months. State officials now say more than 15,000 residents of nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities were confirmed or presumed to have died from Covid-19 since March of last year—counting both those who died in long-term-care facilities and those who died later in hospitals. That figure is about 50% higher than earlier official death tolls.
The deception strategy was straightforward enough: If the actual death didn’t occur in the nursing home because the nursing home patient had been taken to the hospital prior to death, don’t count it as a nursing home death.
The reason is obvious. It was already widely known, and we had already written about the fact, that Cuomo had ordered nursing homes to accept people who had tested positive for COVID. Basic common sense would tell you this was going to turn the nursing homes into death traps, and it wouldn’t be long before the data would back that up.
It was bad enough when the initial July report showed 10,000 COVID deaths had occurred in nursing homes, but the Cuomo Administration knew the number was much higher than that. They fudged it as much as they could to limit the political damage to Cuomo.
Advertisement - story continues below
What we didn’t know until today is that Team Cuomo knew as far back as July how bad the carnage had really been, and made a conscious and willful decision to alter the data. What’s more, they spent eight months stonewalling requests from the legislature and the media to examine the data – because they knew it would only be a matter of time before someone figured out the numbers didn’t add up.
Cuomo deserves to be removed from office for the initial order alone, before you even deal with the data falsification. How could anyone not see what would happen when you forced nursing homes – which are full of old people with various health challenges – to accept COVID-positive people into their midst? For a guy who got credit from the media as some sort of COVID-fighting genius, this is about the most mind-boggling blunder imaginable.
And now we know that he recognized what a blunder it was, because he had his people immediately hide the evidence of the damage he had done.
By the way, here in Michigan, Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the same exact order – and refused to rescind it for months even after Cuomo rescinded his. Republicans in the state legislature are now demanding to know if the nursing home death data she provided is on the up and up.
This could be a very interesting spring.