Family members of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 called for an independent probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s actions and policies.
To make their point, they held a press conference Wednesday outside the Manhattan US Attorney’s office.
The clamor for an investigation followed last week’s exclusive Post report that revealed Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa had admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration hid data about the total number of nursing home residents killed by the coronavirus — fearing that it would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors. After the private conversation became public, DeRosa said that state officials were cooperating with the feds but would not turn over information to state lawmakers.
Relatives of dead nursing home residents were not convinced.
Tracy Alvino, whose 76-year-old father Daniel Alvino died at a nursing home in West Islip, Long Island, said, “Gov. Cuomo is a clear and present danger to every New Yorker. His decisions have killed … Our legislators must act now to restrict his powers at the very least. We need independent investigations with subpoena power at the state and federal levels.
Alvino continued, “Gov. Cuomo willfully and deliberately misled the public by releasing false health information … I know our lawmakers are on winter break, but we never get a winter break from our grief.
“There’s not a day that’s gone by in the past 10 months that I didn’t cry. Our families didn’t choose this battle. We didn’t want to bring down the most corrupt governor in America.
“These were the cards we were dealt, and we have to play them. We must be the voices for the 15,000 people that departed this world before their time, and we must be the voices for the families, most of whom are too mired in their grief.”
Alexa Rivera, co-founder for Voices for Seniors, lost her mother Ana Martinez in April.
Her mother was infected with COVID-19 in a nursing home and died after being transported to a hospital with a collapsed lung.
“The loss of this many people in less than a year should be a bipartisan issue because this is a humanitarian crisis — not just for those who have died but for those still in nursing homes, still being neglected and isolated from their loved ones,” Rivera said.
“The rules placed by the governor are not working … I implore all democratic officials to not be swayed by your loyalty to Gov. Cuomo or your Democratic Party. The decisions he’s made have cost us a lot,” she added. “We are grieving families. We not only want an independent investigation, but we want this to be a bipartisan issue where the government officials that we vote for do the right thing.”
Cuomo’s office said the administration should have released the full nursing home COVID-19 death count sooner, but defended its policies.
“Every single death is a tragedy, and as we’ve said, we shouldn’t have created an information vacuum that allowed misinformation to fester,” said Cuomo spokesman Jack Sterne.
“The reality is every action the state took was based on the best health expertise at the time, we moved heaven and earth to protect New Yorkers despite being the first state hit by this pandemic and receiving no consistent federal guidance, and COVID was already in 98 percent of nursing homes before anyone was admitted from a hospital. It’s extremely unfortunate anyone is politicizing these tragic deaths to score political points.”