EDITORIAL: No excuse for continuing to hold back covid information

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Monday in front of a mountain shaped like the COVID-19 curve in New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Monday in front of a mountain shaped like the COVID-19 curve in New York.

Need we remind the Cuomo administration who works for whom?

Judging by the state’s response to two recent requests for information related to the covid crisis, you’d think the governor’s office forgot.

Just to clarify for those who skipped that day in high school civics class: The government works for the citizens, not the other way around.

In two cases, the state continues to stonewall the release of documentation — one related to coronavirus deaths in nursing homes and the other related to state spending due to covid cutbacks.

In the case of coronavirus deaths related to nursing homes, the governor’s office and state Health Department have been suspiciously reluctant to share that information with the public for months.

Back in August, the Empire Center citizens group filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking covid-related death numbers for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The request was made based on the suspicion that the state is deliberately underplaying the number of deaths related to a now-recinded policy that prohibited nursing homes from turning away hospital patients who had previously tested positive for the virus.

That’s certainly information the public is entitled to know, for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones and medical professionals. It’s also information our elected state and local officials need so they can make policy.

But since the FOIL was submitted, the state has pushed back the projected date of release three times, now until March 22, according to the Empire Center.

There’s no legitimate reason for it to take the state eight months to release statistical records it should have readily available. The longer they delay, the more clear it is that they don’t want the public to see these figures. And it makes you wonder why.

The other bit of information being withheld is data sought by 20 good government groups and others involving money the state government withheld from local governments, state vendors and other government agencies as part of budget rationing due to the covid crisis.

With the governor set to release his executive budget proposal next week and with lawmakers having less than three months to put a state budget together before the April 1 deadline, it’s vital that the state release this information to the public and state legislators so they can make informed decisions about spending and personnel.

Withholding this information only makes accurate budgeting — already challenging because of the pandemic —virtually impossible.

There’s no reason for the state to keep any of this information from the public, and no justification for any further delays.

Government works for us.

They seem to keep forgetting that a lot lately.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

One Comment

The premise of this editorial is completely wrong! In NYS the citizens work for the government, period. We are here to support them, and are totally subservient to the whims of the political class. My view is not cynicism, this how the state operates. It’s pervasive, and another reason why people are leaving.

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