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Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home scandal is more than just a coverup

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Gov. Cuomo's nursing home scandal is more than just a coverup

You’ve heard the expression that the coverup is worse than the crime? Well, in the case of Gov. Cuomo, the opposite might be true.

Cuomo is under bipartisan fire after an aide admitted that his administration deliberately delayed releasing information showing the true extent of COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes, out of fears, according to the aide, that the information “was going to be used against us.”

Stonewalling the Justice Department is bad enough, but Cuomo did something even worse: His administration provided inaccurate data to public health officials in real time, at the beginning of the crisis, when government scientists were desperately trying to figure out how the virus was spreading, who was most vulnerable and how to stop it. Instead of meeting its obligation to provide accurate information, the Cuomo administration provided incomplete data about nursing-home deaths apparently because he feared real data would hurt him politically. 

That is like providing false intelligence to battlefield commanders about the location of the enemy in a time of war.

On March 25, Cuomo’s Health Department ordered nursing homes to accept known or suspected COVID-19 hospital patients, prohibiting facilities from requiring tests to see whether they were infectious. After a firestorm erupted, on May 3, his administration suddenly changed the way it reported nursing-home COVID deaths — releasing only the number of deaths that took place inside nursing homes, and not counting those who died after being taken to hospitals. 

According to a senior Justice Department official, the administration withheld data on private nursing-home deaths in New York until the final days of the Trump administration. As a result, the federal government was given bad data about the spread of the pandemic in New York. An Associated Press investigation found that New York underreported the number of hospital patients recovering from COVID-19 who were sent to nursing homes by 40 percent. The real number was more than 9,000 — my mother among them. And the Cuomo administration reported only 8,500 nursing-home deaths, when the real number was about 15,000 — an undercount of at least 43 percent.

This was more than just a coverup. It impeded our public health response. We now know that New York was the primary source of new infections across the United States. Genetic testing shows that the outbreak in New York was seeded by travelers from Europe, and that it was the New York variant — not the West Coast variant that arrived directly from China — that seeded the rest of the country. 

The New York Times reported last year that the New York variant was responsible for 70 percent of COVID-19 cases in Texas, 78 percent of cases in Wisconsin, 80 percent in Alaska, 84 percent in Arizona and 100 percent in Louisiana. As Nathan Grubaugh, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, told the Times, “New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country.”

So, understanding how the virus was spreading in New York was critical to stopping it nationwide. But Cuomo’s administration shared inaccurate data with health officials. And then when Justice Department investigators and state lawmakers began asking questions, New York delayed its answers. His administration “froze” (in the words of Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa) and withheld the real data. It was only a court order and the release of a report by the New York state attorney general that forced the governor to admit the true extent of the damage his policy did.

Meanwhile, he presented himself to the world as the hero of the COVID story — even publishing a book sharing “Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The media played along, holding him up in contrast to President Donald Trump as an example of effective executive leadership in the face of a public health crisis. In November, he received an Emmy Award in recognition of “his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of TV to inform and calm people around the world.” No, he used TV to lie to New Yorkers and the world — and his lies cost lives.

New York lawmakers are talking about revoking Cuomo’s pandemic emergency powers. That’s a start. But imagine if Trump had done what Cuomo did? We’d have a third impeachment on our hands. Cuomo’s actions certainly merit his removal from office — not just for the coverup, but for the actions he took that impeded our national response to the worst pandemic in American history.

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Opinion

Biden’s getting exactly the border crisis he asked for

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Biden's getting exactly the border crisis he asked for

A new year, a new president, a return of an old problem: unaccompanied children crossing the border in droves.

Thousands of children — usually older teens, 16 or 17, but Border Patrol agents report increasing numbers of kids younger than 13 — are arriving each month from Central America.

On Thursday, a Customs and Border Protection staffer reportedly told top Biden administration officials to expect a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied minors to cross the border in May — the highest level ever.

“We’re seeing the highest February numbers [that] we’ve ever seen in the history of the [Unaccompanied Alien Child] program,” a Department of Health and Human Services official told Axios.

That’s right: a crisis worse than the one that brought the “kids in cages” backlash under President Donald Trump, and the earlier crises that prompted the building of those “cages” under President Barack Obama.

And it’s a crisis that we and others warned would come, as soon as President Biden started reversing every Trump border policy, even those clearly responsible for producing historic lows in illegal crossers, and returning to Obama policies that first triggered the unprecedented waves of children crossing without family.

Now Biden’s having to reopen shelters to house the kids until the feds can figure out what to do with them — shelters that his usual allies denounced as horrors in the Trump years. Yet, says White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, “There are very few good options here, and we chose the one we thought is best.”

That’s only because her boss already rejected the option of trying to ensure they don’t come here in the first place.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — Feb. 27, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — Feb. 27, 2021

The Issue: The parole of a man convicted of killing NYPD Officer Harry Ryman in 1980.

The parole of cop-killer Paul Ford is yet another sign that Gov. Cuomo has absolutely no regard for victims’ families (“Slain-cop kin aghast at murderer’s parole,” Feb. 21).

Cuomo has no interest in protecting the residents of New York, as his criminal-justice reforms and handpicked Parole Board members are causing violent criminals to be released onto our streets.

It is time for all New Yorkers to wake up and protect themselves by pushing this ruthless tyrant out of his easy chair.

Nicholas Maffei
Yonkers

Some 20 cop-killers have been released by Cuomo’s moronic and irresponsible Parole Board since 2017, including one who murdered two cops in one incident.

Combine that with the release of the killer of two moms who were slain with their kids in the house, and you have to wonder how board members keep their jobs.

Meanwhile, Cuomo, who appointed them, wrote a book on leadership, which in retrospect is a total joke, even aside from the parole board.

Where is the outrage over this? How is giving hope to murderers serving society? When will they disband this Parole Board?

Niles Welikson
Williston Park

The Parole Board members lack reason and common sense.

This board has released 20 cop-killers since 2017. What an embarrassing record.

This is morally bankrupt, unethical and shows absolutely no compassion or consideration for these police officers’ families.

This time, it’s the killer of Police Officer Harry Ryman, who gave up his life trying to stop three thugs from stealing a neighbor’s car.

These poor families had to suffer without a father, husband or son.

So tell me: How is anyone’s life improved by of the release of another cop-killer?

Mike Pedano
South Farmingdale

Cuomo’s tenure as governor will forever be remembered for the thousands of nursing-home deaths attributed to his incompetence. That is how it should be.

However, the release of cop-killer Paul Ford by a Cuomo-appointed Parole Board is a reminder that the damage done by this politician is far-reaching.

A life sentence has no meaning in a progressive, liberal state. Who could have guessed that some 40 years after the murder of a policeman, the cops would be the bad guys and lowlife scum like Ford would be freed?

Robert Mangi
Westbury

The Issue: A new documentary that details the accusations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen.

I am fuming after reading Andrea Peyser’s column (“Put me on Team Woody — Mia is full of it,” Feb. 22).

The reason why child molestation continues is because people turn a blind eye to the facts.

Let me ask you this — who in their right mind marries their partner’s own child, adopted or not? If you cannot see there is something wrong with that picture, you have blinders on.

There are limited instances where people have falsely accused others of being child molesters in order to gain custody of their children during a divorce or separation.

In the case between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, you have to look at his behavior. I believe the claims are true.

Panagiota Giakoumis
Middleburgh

I never liked Allen or Farrow, so I have no bias in this endless feud, but I’m shocked that anyone could watch the new HBO documentary and not realize that it’s corrupt and dishonest to only tell one side.

Anyone can make another person look bad with lies or exaggerations.

Andrew Nace-Enzminger
Brooklyn

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Opinion

Democrats’ sneak attack on the free press

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Democrats' sneak attack on the free press

Democrats’ hot new idea for responsible dialogue is to muscle cable and satellite providers to drop Fox News and other outlets they dislike.

In the runup to a House hearing this week, Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney (both D-Calif.) sent out letters to a dozen providers to silence conservative channels, demanding to know the “ethical or moral principles” behind “disseminating misinformation to millions.”

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr called out the “concerted effort by Democrats to drive political dissent from the political square.”

Indeed: At the actual hearing, the subcommittee chief, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) gave the real agenda away: “More free speech just isn’t winning the day over the kind of speech that we’re concerned about.”

Sadly, this kind of intimidation works. As lefty Matt Taibbi notes, the last Democratic push for censorship got Facebook and Twitter to go along, with results like their blackout of The Post’s pre-election Hunter Biden scoops.

The government doesn’t have to actually ban speech by law (in violation of the First Amendment) when politicians simply can threaten the private sector into doing their will.

Too bad Taibbi was one of only a few lonely voices on the left to call out this concerted assault on basic democratic freedoms.

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