New Yorkers, many of whom were still grieving, were not thrilled with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s, D., answer Wednesday regarding how she plans to investigate last year’s COVID-19 nursing home tragedy and the Cuomo administration’s reported cover-up.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D., was condemned for enforcing a mandate that forced COVID patients into nursing homes last year, which critics alleged led to the staggering death toll in those facilities, and reports later revealed his administration blocked the release of the true death toll.
Hochul was asked what she would do to get to the bottom of the sweeping tragedy.
“I need to continue working to identify the principals involved in those decisions,” Hochul told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, adding she plans to assemble a new team over the next 45 days.
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“I’m not going to be replacing people when we’re in the middle of a pandemic on this day because I have so much to do to protect New Yorkers, and we’re not anywhere near where we need to be, but I’ll be taking an approach that’s very different, transparency starting today.” That effort toward transparency, she said, will include releasing more data on nursing homes that is consistent with the CDC.
Cuomo’s senior aides purposely sought to prevent New York state health officials, including Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, from releasing the accurate number of fatalities, The New York Times reported. In January, state Attorney General Letitia James’s office found the governor’s office may have undercounted the number of nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent.
Considering the scale of the scandal, critics told Hochul she needs to do better.
“Not good enough,” tweeted VoicesForSeniors, a group which pledges “to hold healthcare workers and government officials accountable.” “The evidence of Zucker’s role in crafting the policy that sent thousands of seniors to the grave followed by the coverup is publicly available.”
“What did Kathy Hochul know and when did she know it?” the group continued. “Grieving nursing home families deserve answers! We’ve been waiting over 1.5 years for the truth!”
Others who have closely followed the nursing home scandal said the obvious first step is to fire Zucker.
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Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean, who lost both of her in-laws to COVID-19 in separate New York nursing homes last year, said Hochul gave a “terrible answer” and agreed Zucker needs to go.
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Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first female governor this week following Cuomo’s resignation in the midst of his sexual harassment scandal. New York is now the largest state in the country to have had a woman governor.