For the duration of the COVID pandemic, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been the living embodiment of hubris. As early as last July, he released a commemorative poster touting his handling of the crisis. It resembled a liberal version of Soviet-style propaganda posters from the Cold War era.
He eagerly accepted an International Emmy award for his ‘masterful’ daily briefings on the pandemic. ‘He effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,’ Emmy Award CEO Bruce Paisner explained.
And in October, Cuomo released his book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was such an exercise in off-the-charts chutzpah that even the staid Associated Press issued a cautionary note: ‘The book is an unusual and risky case of reflecting on a crisis that is still ongoing.’
No kidding. Thanks to New York attorney general Leticia James we now know New York’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 may be more than 50 percent higher than Cuomo claimed. In a searing 76-page report, James’s office revealed how Cuomo’s administration had refused to release data on how many of those residents died in hospitals rather than at nursing homes. The report confirms earlier reporting from the New York Post and several other outlets last year.
Thousands of residents died after the state issued a March 25 mandate for nursing homes to admit ‘medically stable’ coronavirus patients. A ProPublica investigation found that Cuomo’s mandate was akin to ‘introducing fire to dry grass’.
James’s bombshell findings could raise the current count of 8,711 nursing home deaths to more than 13,000. New York State only has some 100,000 patients in nursing homes.
The report prompted an outraged reaction from Janice Dean, a Fox News meteorologist and anchor who has become a spokesperson for victim families after her own husband’s parents both died in nursing homes of COVID.
She accused Cuomo of ‘blaming, bullying, lying and covering up” the scandal. She wrote in the New York Post that victim families were falsely attacked for being ‘part of a death cult that wouldn’t stop hounding Cuomo or his office. I was warned to “watch my back” and “be careful”.’
Indeed, Cuomo’s office was openly dismissive of Dean and other reporters’ questions about the data. Asked about Dean earlier this month, a Cuomo spokesman sneered ‘Last I checked, she’s not a credible source on anything except maybe the weather.’ Women were outraged by the condescension, and several female political donors have urged Dean to run for governor in 2022 if Cuomo seeks a fourth four-year term.
Cuomo himself is incapable of recognizing the gap between his rhetoric and reality. In a press conference today he claimed he was urged by ‘federal guidance’ to write the directive that sent COVID-19 patients back into New York’s nursing homes. But if that was so, why did 45 other governors not act in the same way?
Two days before the release of the damning AG report, the governor appeared on MSNBC to blast former President Trump’s response to the pandemic. ‘Incompetent government kills people. More people died than needed to die in COVID,’ Cuomo solemnly intoned. ‘And that’s the truth.’
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 26, 2021
Janice Dean has a succinct response to Cuomo’s latest Emmy-worthy performance: ‘Turns out he was talking about himself.’