New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is facing fierce opposition from some prominent Democrats over his handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called for a full investigation on Friday, following news that the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn have started their own probe into Cuomo's course of action.
"I support our state's return to co-equal governance and stand with our local officials calling for a full investigation of the Cuomo administration's handling of nursing homes during COVID-19," her statement reads.
"Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes throughout the pandemic. Their loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership, and the Secretary to the Governor's remarks warrant a full investigation," Ocasio-Cortez added.
Cuomo sent more than 9,000 COVID-infected patients back into nursing homes rather than sending them to other options like the USS Comfort which had sailed to New York to help with the crisis.
Last month, it was revealed that Cuomo’s administration underreported the number of long-term care facility deaths by nearly 50 percent. A report by the State Attorney General showed 12,743 long-term patients died of the virus in New York, much higher than the state's official tally of 8,500. The administration’s count includes only those patients who died in nursing homes but left out those who were sent to hospitals and died there.
This week, the governor’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, privately apologized to state lawmakers for withholding the real number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19, saying they feared the Trump administration would use those numbers against them.
Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim told CNN that he received a phone call from Cuomo directing him to cover up DeRosa’s comments.
"Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa (DeRosa) and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience," Kim said. Cuomo proceeded to tell Kim that "we're in this business together and we don't cross certain lines and he said I hadn't seen his wrath and that he can destroy me."
Kim, who has been the most outspoken of critics over Cuomo, believes his own uncle passed away from COVID in a nursing home last year.
Other prominent New York democrats are following Ocasio-Cortez’s lead, with New York City mayoral hopeful Maya Wiley now calling for an investigation into Cuomo's conduct.
"Once an investigation occurs, there must be accountability," Wiley told The Daily News. "In addition, it's time to revoke Governor Cuomo's emergency powers and return to more normal governance in Albany."
Meanwhile, the New York State Assembly's minority Republicans are pressing their fellow lawmakers to form an impeachment commission in order to investigate how Cuomo dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak in nursing homes.
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) told Fox News on Friday that "there are a lot of different components here as to why Governor Cuomo needs to go," but "if we want to save our state, Cuomo's got to go."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that "Cuomo is simply unwilling to be accountable for his decisions."
"His arrogance is so overwhelming that he refuses to say, 'I was wrong.' People will forgive you for being wrong, they will not forgive you for being arrogant and unwilling to accept responsibility when you have that job," Huckabee added.
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