House Minority Whip Steve Scalise says that New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo should “just be honest” with families who lost loved ones in nursing homes to COVID-19 after he ordered eldercare facilities to take them in.
The Louisiana Republican’s comments during Fox News’ “Watters’ World” Saturday evening come on the heels of a bombshell report by the New York Post last week detailing comments Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, made to Democratic state lawmakers in which she admitted the governor hid the actual number of nursing home COVID deaths because the administration feared a federal investigation.
Under Cuomo’s order, issued in March 2020 and finally rescinded in May, nearly 9,000 COVID-19 patients were sent into eldercare facilities and over 15,000 people in these facilities died from the disease, according to the New York Department of Health — far more than the previous official death toll — Watters noted as he introduced the segment.
Watters went on to note that Cuomo could have those patients to the USNS Comfort, one of the U.S. Navy’s two hospital ships after then-President Donald Trump ordered the vessel to New York specifically in response to rising coronavirus infections in the state and in New York City.
In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a massive healthcare facility at the Javits Center that also went underused.
Responding to Watters’ intro, Scalise referred to The Post’s report as “a devastating bombshell.”
“And frankly, the saddest part of it is, that thousands of people died who shouldn’t have died from COVID — going back to March when Governor Cuomo gave that deadly order mandating that COVID-positive patients from hospitals be sent back into nursing homes — even if the nursing home couldn’t take care of them,” the minority whip continued.
“That, by the way, went against federal CMS guidance that said not to do that,” he continued, using the acronym for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Cuomo continued to try to hide this,” Scalise charged. “I’m on a select subcommittee. We’ve been asking Governor Cuomo to give the data to us, to show us, be transparent with the facts, going back to June. And he’s very smugly said we don’t have to show it to you.
“Now you have his top aide saying, thinking that she’s only talking to a couple of Democrat senators in New York, saying, ‘Hey, we didn’t give the data because we were afraid it might be used against us in an investigation,’” said Scalise, alleging the tactic is “the very definition of obstruction.”
“But the worst part is there’s thousands of families that are begging and pleading to get these answers, and Governor Cuomo has just looked the other way and scoffed at them,” Scalise noted further. “And then called any of us who have demanded these answers every kind of name under the sun because he’s trying to cover up for his own failures.
“Just be honest with these families,” Scalise said. “Janice Dean on Fox has been very vocal about this, trying to get the facts out. So many other families that I’ve heard from in New York that, they just want to know the answer.”
Dean, Fox News’ senior meteorologist, has been vocally critical of Cuomo’s nursing home policy for nearly a year after her parents-in-law both died from the virus in an eldercare facility.
Watters went on to suggest that the New York governor may have wanted to “run out the clock” and stall any potential investigation while President Donald Trump was still in office, perhaps hoping for a more favorable political climate under a Joe Biden administration.
But Scalise said it was vital for authorities to learn exactly what happened.
“We’ve got to get to the bottom of this,” Scalise told Watters. “We’re not going to stop demanding answers.
“But look, the clock does not stop ticking because there were murders and deaths involved that should have never happened – maybe over 10,000, definitely in the thousands. Governor Cuomo ought to just be transparent. If he can’t be transparent he shouldn’t be in that position,” he added.