More than 9,000 patients who were recovering from COVID-19 were sent to nursing homes across New York State early in the pandemic, the Associated Press reported.
Their transfer was a result of a March 25 directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that has sparked criticism for potentially contributing to the increase in cases and deaths across the state’s nursing homes. The number of patients transferred is also 40% higher than what the state health department previously released.
Politico reported that Republican lawmakers in the state are now calling on Cuomo to resign. The calls come after The New York Post reported that a Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Cuomo, admitted to withholding the actual death toll in the state nursing homes.
The Post obtained audio from a meeting with Democratic lawmakers, where DeRosa apologized and says they “froze” when Cuomo’s office got a request for the numbers in August. DeRosa reportedly said she was afraid it would cause a federal investigation and allow former President Donald Trump to attack Cuomo and his administration.
“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, according to the Post.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to an emailed request for comment at the time of publication.
Last month, the state’s Attorney General Letitia James condemned Cuomo’s office and said they underreported deaths in long-term care facilities by more than 50%.
The AP filed a Freedom of Information request, and the state said there was an additional new count of 2,729 “readmissions” 0f patients sent back to the nursing home they lived in before being admitted to the hospital on top of the previously disclosed 6,327 patients.
While state officials have said the state was simply following federal guidelines and that the spread of the virus in nursing homes is mainly due to asymptomatic staff, other health experts say that tit likely led to more infections and deaths.
“There has never been any question in my mind that sending COVID-19 patients into completely unprepared, understaffed, and underresourced nursing homes both increased transmission and led to a greater number of deaths,” Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, told the AP.