By Luis Ferré-Sadurní, March 15, 2022
THE NEW YORK TIMES, ALBANY, N.Y.
The administration of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo failed to publicly account for the deaths of about 4,100 nursing home residents in New York during the pandemic, according to an audit released on Tuesday by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli.
The audit found that Health Department officials at times underreported the full death toll by as much as 50 percent from April 2020 to February 2021, as Mr. Cuomo faced increasing scrutiny over whether his administration had intentionally concealed the actual number of deaths.
The 41-page report concluded that the Health Department often acquiesced to the narrative Mr. Cuomo and his top officials wanted to promote during the pandemic, sometimes failing to meet its “ethical” and “moral” imperatives to act transparently.
“Our audit findings are extremely troubling,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a statement. “The public was misled by those at the highest level of state government through distortion and suppression of the facts when New Yorkers deserved the truth.”
Health officials did not provide auditors with a breakdown by name of the nursing home residents who died from Covid, according to Mr. DiNapoli’s office, and the actual number of nursing home residents who died is still uncertain.
The audit marks the third state inquiry to corroborate how Mr. Cuomo’s administration significantly downplayed the number of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
Those efforts coincided with Mr. Cuomo’s attempts to elevate his public image at the height of his national popularity in 2020, including through daily televised briefings and the publication of a book that burnished his response to the pandemic.
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, eventually resigned in August as a result of the controversy over nursing home deaths and other scandals that engulfed his administration, including accusations of sexual harassment from numerous women …