White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration would support the idea of an outside investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) in response to two new reports claiming that aides to the governor made changes to a nursing home report that was released last summer.
“We’ve certainly seen those reports, obviously they’re troubling, and we certainly would support any outside investigation, but those wouldn’t be determinations made by us,” Psaki told reporters at the White House in a press conference Friday afternoon.
Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times released similar news articles Thursday reporting that members of the Cuomo administration successfully made changes to a nursing home report drafted by state health officials early last summer. The New York Times, citing interviews and documents they reviewed, reports that Cuomo aides had a figure removed that referenced the number of deaths connected to nursing homes, which at the time the report was written was around 9,000 and included nursing home residents who died in hospitals.
From the New York Times:
As the nursing home report was being written, the New York State Health Department’s data — contained in a chart reviewed by The Times that was included in a draft — put the death toll roughly 50 percent higher than the figure then being cited publicly by the Cuomo administration.
The Health Department worked on the report with McKinsey, a consulting firm hired by Mr. Cuomo to help with the pandemic response. The chart they created compared nursing home deaths in New York with other states. New York’s total of 9,250 deaths far exceeded that of the next-highest state, New Jersey, which had 6,150 at the time.
The changes sought by the governor’s aides fueled bitter exchanges with health officials working on the report. The conflict punctuated an already tense and devolving relationship between Mr. Cuomo and his Health Department, one that would fuel an exodus of the state’s top public health officials.
Days after that nursing home deaths report was released, Cuomo publicly suggested for the first time that he was “thinking about writing a book about what we went through,” according to The New York Times. And by October, Cuomo had released a book on COVID-19 and leadership, and publicly thanked readers for putting it on the Times’ bestsellers list.
Let’s learn the lessons of the Spring to be smart in fighting back this virus now.
Thank you for reading. https://t.co/IknPiDBMH5
— Andrew Cuomo (@andrewcuomo) October 22, 2020
Beth Garvey, special counsel to Cuomo, told the Times in a statement that the figure published in the final report did not include out-of-nursing home deaths because the health department told them that that figure hadn’t been “adequately verified.” She also said the changes did not affect the conclusion of the report, which analyzed factors associated with nursing home deaths. Gary Holmes, a spokesperson for the state health department, told the Times that the state of New York was still auditing the numbers at the time the report was released.
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