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New York comptroller audit concludes Cuomo admin undercounted COVID nursing home deaths

An audit released on Tuesday by the New York State government concluded that the administration of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed to accurately account for the number of New Yorkers who died from the coronavirus in nursing homes.

According to an audit released Tuesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Cuomo’s Health Department failed to account for 4,100 nursing home deaths and undercounted the coronavirus death toll in nursing homes by as much as 50% from April 2020 to February 2021.

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“Families have a right to know if their loved one’s COVID-19 death was counted, but many still don’t have answers from the state Department of Health,” DiNapoli said in a statement released with the audit. “Our audit findings are extremely troubling. 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. The pandemic is not over, and I am hopeful the current administration will make changes to improve accountability and protect lives. An important step would be for DOH to provide the families who lost loved ones with answers as to the actual number of nursing homes residents who died. These families are still grieving, and they deserve no less.”

The audit states that the health department fell “well short” of its “moral” and “ethical” obligation to accurately report the deaths.

In a statement to Fox News, Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi suggested the release of the audit had politically based motives.

In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention

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“As the number of out-of-facility deaths were reported last January this is not news, however what is peculiar is the Comptroller’s release of this audit now — but no one has ever accused him of being above politics,” Azzopardi said. 

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced earlier this year it would not criminally charge Cuomo in connection with his handling of nursing home deaths which he was widely criticized for during his time in office.

An investigation was opened after a report last year by New York Attorney General Letitia James revealed that the state’s Department of Health underreported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.

Cuomo had directed nursing homes to accept patients who tested positive for or were suspected of having COVID-19 early in his pandemic response, a move that became controversial after thousands of elderly patients became infected with the virus.

“As the pandemic and our investigations continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate,” James said in a statement at the time. “While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents.”

 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo arrives to depart in his helicopter after announcing his resignation in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 10, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

A separate investigation conducted by the New York Assembly concluded in November that the Cuomo administration “materially misrepresented” data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths, with one lawmaker saying the revelations would have been grounds for impeachment if Cuomo was still in office.

Fox News’ Michael Lee contributed to this report

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