“The gravity of this cover-up cannot be overstated.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for a “full accounting” of what occurred following news of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration covering up data pointing to the number of coronavirus-related deaths in NYC nursing homes and long term care facilities.

Describing the report as both “disturbing” and “troubling,” de Blasio said it is crucial to gather more information and called for a “full accounting of what happened.”

“We’ve gotta know more,” de Blasio said during a Friday appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. “We now need a full accounting of what happened.”

“Think about seniors … their lives were in the balance and their families just desperate to get them the help they needed. We need to know exactly what happened here,” he continued. “We need to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

CNN reported:

Amid the swirling controversy over whether New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration knowingly undercounted deaths among nursing home residents during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state, a top aide for the governor apologized to Democratic lawmakers, saying the administration “froze” when initially asked by state legislators back in August about the issue.

Which is a stunning admission. And seems to jibe with a report released last month by New York Attorney General Letitia James that suggested that Cuomo’s administration undercounted deaths among nursing home residents by as much as 50%. “Preliminary data obtained by [the Office of the Attorney general] suggests that many nursing home residents died from Covid-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in [the Department of Heath’s] published total nursing home death data,” read the summary of the report.

De Blasio’s remarks followed Thursday evening’s New York Post story, which unveiled the private conversation Melissa DeRosa, New York’s secretary to the governor, had with Democrat state lawmakers, essentially admitting that the administration withheld nursing home data out of fear of a federal investigation from the Trump administration.

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said of Trump. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer,” she said, telling the lawmakers that they “froze.”

“Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said, noting that the uncertainty of an investigation “played a very large role into this” and ultimately offering an apology for the political optics.

The article continued:

The aide, Melissa DeRosa, sought to clarify her remarks. “I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first,” she said in a statement provided to CNN. “We informed the houses of this at the time. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked.”
What DeRosa is arguing is that the Cuomo administration essentially put requests from the New York state legislature for more details on nursing home deaths on hold while they dealt with requests for similar information from the Department of Justice.

Top New York lawmakers are also calling for action in the form of investigation by the Department of Justice.

“Governor Cuomo, the Secretary to the Governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately – both by the Attorney General of New York State and the U.S. Department of Justice,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said in a statement, adding that Americans “deserve accountability from the U.S. Department of Justice that will be independent and not swayed by the desperate political pressure from Governor Cuomo.”

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