Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa is responding to a published report that she privately admitted that information on the number of nursing home residents who died due to COVID-19 was intentionally withheld.
The New York Post obtained a recording of a conference call with Democratic lawmakers where DeRosa is heard apologizing to Democratic leaders for the cover-up and political inconvenience it caused them. She said the decision was made due to concerns those numbers could have been used against Cuomo's administration by the Department of Justice.
On Friday, DeRosa released the following statement:
"I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature's request to deal with the federal request first. We informed the houses of this at the time. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic."
She also provided a timeline of events that lead up to the Department of Justice's inquiry to Democratic governors regarding nursing home facilities:
August 3 - NYS DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker testifies before the NYS Legislature regarding COVID and nursing homes/long term care facilities
August 20 - Assembly and Senate each send letters to DOH with follow up questions seeking additional information
August 26 - DOJ sends letter request to Democratic governors about nursing home fatalities
September - Governor's Office asks legislative leaders to pause our response time to the August 20 letters so the administration can first resolve the DOJ inquiry
October 28 - DOJ sends additional letter inquiry re nursing homes
Thanksgiving/early December - Second COVID wave in NYS begins
December 11 - Pfizer vaccine approved
December 14 - First vaccine delivery to NYS
Some state lawmakers requested the nursing home death data but were never granted access to it.