Andrew Cuomo, Accused of Nursing Homes COVID Cover-Up, Extolled His Transparency in Book

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was once praised for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In November, the Democrat won an Emmy award for his "masterful" use of TV to inform New Yorkers about the spread of the coronavirus. He even wrote a book on leadership lessons from the pandemic.

Now, the governor faces allegations that he and his team tried to hide the true extent of nursing home COVID deaths in New York to protect his reputation—despite the governor extolling the value of transparency in his own book.

In the book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, Cuomo wrote that he wanted all of his briefings to provide the public with "unbiased factual evidence" that explained the coronavirus, and its spread through the state.

"The main challenge for me was to communicate this data to the public in a way that would establish my credibility for providing timely information with transparency while also instilling confidence," he wrote at the time.

The New York governor also drafted a "blueprint for going forward" in the book, which was published in October last year as cases mounted and former President Donald Trump occupied the White House. In the fourth recommendation of his blueprint, Cuomo said the government response to COVID-19 had to be informed and guided by data.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

"Data must be reliable and transparent to the public," he wrote. "As a starting point, it has to be free from political influence so that the people can have faith in the information they are receiving."

However, newly-released information over the past few weeks has cast doubt on the New York governor's commitment to reliable data and transparency throughout the pandemic.

In a report released at the end of last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James found that the state's Department of Health had undercounted nursing home COVID deaths by as much as half in its publicly reported data. The Cuomo administration was later forced to confirm that thousands more nursing home residents died from the coronavirus than originally disclosed.

The Associated Press also revealed last week that more than 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients were allowed into nursing homes in the early months of the pandemic under an order from the Cuomo administration, according to previously unseen records obtained through freedom of information request.

During a private conference call between the New York Governor's aide Melissa DeRosa and Democratic lawmakers, Cuomo's top official further admitted that the state administration "basically froze" when former President Trump's Department of Justice asked for data on coronavirus-related nursing home deaths.

She also accused the ex-commander-in-chief of turning the issue into a "political football," and said the Cuomo administration wasn't sure if data provided to federal officials would be "used against us" as she tried to explain a delay in providing the information to lawmakers.

As the reports led Democratic state senators to back calls for Cuomo's expanded emergency powers to be revoked, the New York governor held a press conference to address the allegations that his team had attempted to cover up the extent of the COVID crisis in nursing homes.

Speaking at the press conference on Monday, Cuomo said his team had not tried to cover up nursing home death numbers, but were instead guilty of creating a "void" that was filled with "skepticism, cynicism, and conspiracy theories" that created confusion.

"To be clear, all the deaths in the nursing homes, and in the hospitals, were always fully, publicly, and accurately reported," Cuomo claimed. "The numbers were the numbers, always." Newsweek has contacted Governor Cuomo's office for further comment.