Foss: Cuomo refuses to admit mistakes

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently - Governor's Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently - Governor's Office

There was a different way. 

Nobody forced the Cuomo administration to withhold COVID-19 nursing home data, or stonewall those seeking an accurate count of residents who died of COVID-19.

Nobody forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to dismiss criticism of his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes as “politically motivated,” or to treat the ongoing effort to learn the truth of what happened as almost beneath comment. 

The governor chose to behave this way, and the scandal now exploding around him is the result of a cascading series of bad decisions, all of which he is ultimately responsible for.  

This might seem obvious to anyone paying attention, but last week top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa told lawmakers that the administration “froze” when asked to release the full number of nursing homes, in large part because they feared former President Donald Trump would turn the situation into a “giant political football.” 

Let’s be clear: The refusal to provide public information is not the fault of Trump, or anyone else. 

All along, a different way was possible. 

Cuomo could have released an accurate death toll months ago, when questions first arose about why the state Department of Health’s tally of COVID-19 nursing deaths excluded residents who died in hospitals. 

He could have been honest about what happened, corrected the record and stopped downplaying the scope of the state’s nursing home tragedy. 

He didn’t do that. 

Think of it as a path that could have been taken. 

That should have been taken. 

But wasn’t. 

Cuomo was always going to face some criticism for his pandemic response, and for how hard the virus hit nursing homes in particular. 

What he’s being criticized for now isn’t one or two misguided policies, but for hiding the truth and refusing to admit any errors in judgment, even in the wake of a damning report from the state Attorney General that found the state might have undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent. 

The nursing home scandal has brought Cuomo’s biggest flaws to the fore. 

The governor is not someone who admits mistakes, or apologizes for them. 

Indeed, the only apology over the state’s nursing home response has been from DeRosa to the Democratic lawmakers on the conference call, for putting them in an awkward position at a highly charged political moment.  

There’s been no apology to grieving families, or any real display of remorse. 

Nor has there been any acknowledgement that the state erred in blocking the release of public data, and that more transparency is in order. 

As Assemblyman Ron Kim, D-Queens, who was on the call with DeRosa, put it: “It’s not enough how contrite they are with us. They need to show that to the public and the families – and they haven’t done that.” 

Kim isn’t suggesting that the Cuomo administration do anything radical. 

He’s simply asking that it does what needs to be done.  

But it’s hard to imagine, at this late date, that the governor will approach the topic of nursing homes with more humility, or do things differently in the future. 

It’s hard to imagine him choosing a different way. 

And that’s a shame.

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected] Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: News, Opinion, Sara Foss

2 Comments

JAMES ECCLES

Andy Cuomo has a lot in common with the former president. Both are bullies who are never wrong and have no problem throwing anyone under the bus who suggests otherwise. People such “like a brother to me Joe Percoco” and others on the federal level have been sent to jail because they thought their loyalty to the boss would be appreciated and rewarded.

Telling the truth from the start would have saved a lot of heartache. From the beginning NOBODY had this pandemic figured out, from Fauci on down, but being wrong is a lot different than being a liar. It’s way past time to flush the government of such lying lowlifes, regardless of political party.

Upfront to this comment I’ll state that I’m 60-70% supportive of Governor Cuomo. And I’m registered D only recently, and only to be able to support Sanders in our (nearly canceled; thanks Andy!) Primaries. Otherwise, I’m a proud DINO.

Ms. Foss makes valid points about the character of Gov. Cuomo to not be wont to apologize, and certainly shows that the Top Dog always makes a great pinata.

But her representation of the situation is a distilled, simplistic Crayon picture which slights the good work NYS workers, including and under the direction of Gov. Cuomo, did under horrific conditions. Horrific conditions compounded by a larger petty tyrant in the White House and his minions in Congress, and all the millions of mindless idiots who voted for them, who singled out NY and other “Blue” states as not deserving of federal help. Like the joke sign seen often in offices: “The beatings will continue until morale improves”, right?
I for one expect better from the Daily Gazette, and we did get better in their summary of the AG’s report, where we learned a large part of the problem was the private nursing home industry (overseen by the Feds) and their profound inability to rise to the occasion. In fact if you read the report you’ll see Cuomo’s actions, played a far lesser role in this than our media will have you believe. Ms. Foss, like many more politically motivated, wants to fixate on Cuomo’s personality at a time when the NYS government, and he, deserve much more praise. Honest praise.
The truth not mentioned anywhere about this nursing home situation is that none of the revelations change the number who died IN TOTAL. This is about identifying where seniors passed, either in their nursing home or in the hospitals they were transferred to. Information the AG singled out the private nursing homes as being deficient in.
Regarding the issue of assigning COVID infected seniors back to their nursing homes, let’s be clear: I watched almost all of Cuomo’s pressers over the summer and I do not recall a time when he did not say he was assigning seniors to nursing homes and “if those nursing homes felt they could not safely accommodate the patient they were to notify the state and the state would find a place for them”. The background for this was we were watching a skyrocketing infection rate, full ICUs and ERs, refrigerator trucks for the overflow of bodies, and mass graves. That was the reality behind the actions with the senior population, and that needs to be said, and Ms. Foss does journalism a disservice for not including the context.
But, could she apologize?

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