Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., is calling for a probe into New York's handling of data related to coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration have been heavily criticized for not fully reporting the numbers after Cuomo had directed nursing homes to take in residents who had been hospitalized with COVID-19. The backlash over this policy, which was meant to free up space in hospitals, intensified after a Cuomo aide reportedly admitted that the administration withheld data from the Department of Justice.
"Politics should never come before people's lives. The Secretary to the Governor’s remarks are beyond troubling and warrant a full investigation," Delgado tweeted Sunday. "Thousands of New Yorkers lost family in nursing homes to COVID-19, a pain made worse by the inability to comfort their loved ones in their final hours. They deserve answers and accountability."
Fox News reached out to Cuomo's office for their response to Delgado's comments but they did not immediately respond.
Delgado's tweet was in reference to Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, who reportedly said that Cuomo's administration feared the data about COVID-19 deaths could "be used against us" by the Justice Department in the midst of its federal probe initiated against four states regarding nursing home deaths, including New York.
"We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation," DeRosa told the lawmakers, according to the New York Post, which first reported the information.
On Friday, DeRosa sought to clarify her comments, saying she 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."
The Justice Department had been seeking information regarding the number of nursing home residents who had died of COVID-19, and New York had only released data regarding those who died while present in the nursing homes, not counting those who may have died in hospitals or elsewhere.
A report from New York Attorney General Letitia James in late January said the state Department of Health underreported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.