New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday called for the “full truth,” after a scathing attorney general report that found that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration undercounted COVID-related nursing home deaths by as much as 50%.
“We have to make sense of this, we have to get the full truth and have to make sure it never ever happens again, nothing like this happens again and we have to be honest about the numbers,” de Blasio said during a news conference.
Hizzoner was asked about a new report out Thursday by Attorney General Letitia James that found the state Department of Health underreported deaths by up to 50%.
Cuomo, who released a book on his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, came under significant criticism for his decision in the early days of the crisis to direct nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients. Cuomo’s administration had claimed that it was following federal guidelines.
James’ office found that “a larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than the New York State Department of Health’s publishing nursing home data reflected and may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent.”
“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. “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.”
Investigations into more than 20 nursing homes whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented particular concern are still ongoing, James added.
De Blasio highlighted the human costs of the deaths in nursing homes in the Empire State.
“These are our loved ones we lost, you know, it’s someone grandmas, someone’s mother father, aunts or uncles, this is families missing someone dear to them,” he said Thursday.
He also took it as an opportunity to praise the New York City team that is distributing data at the city-level.
“I do want to give a lot of credit to colleagues in my administration, health leadership, who have always strived to really put out not just the obvious numbers, but we’ve been talking about probable deaths, probable cases,” he said. “We try to be as clear and honest as possible and I appreciate that, and I think that’s the way we all have to understand this crisis and make sure nothing like this happens again.”
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.