Former Gov. George Pataki unloaded on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, calling the COVID-19 nursing home death reporting “cover-up” scandal “one of the worst things I have seen in state government.”
During an interview on AM 570 WMCA radio, Pataki called Cuomo’s nursing home policies and actions “inhumane,” “reprehensible,” “outrageous,” “despicable” and “beyond the pale.”
He called for a criminal probe by the Biden Justice Department, state Attorney General Letitia James and independent investigation conducted by the state Legislature.
“This is one of the worst things I have seen in New York State government, and I’ve been following this for a long time,” Pataki said of the nursing home death cover-up.
“This is one of the worst things I have seen in New York State government, and I’ve been following this for a long time.”
He also said the Legislature should curb Cuomo’s emergency powers, which would “speed up” the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and end Albany’s “micro-management.”
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“You won’t have people worried about getting fined a million dollars or losing your license if you give someone in category 2CW a vaccine as opposed to category 2AB. This is asinine micro-management,” he said.
There’s growing support among fellow Democrats who control the state Assembly and Senate to strip Cuomo of the powers they granted him last year to swiftly respond to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak following. Those powers expire on April 30.
Pataki said team Cuomo and his health department only started coming clean on nursing home deaths after state Attorney General Letitia James issued a stinging report that found that they misled the public by underreporting coronavirus deaths among facility residents by 50 percent — all by excluding people who died after being transported to hospitals.
A state judge also recently ordered Cuomo to release more complete nursing home death data after ruling his administration illegally withheld the information for months from the Empire Center for Public Policy. The watchdog group filed a legal request for the figures.
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“We know they were hiding the number of deaths. It’s just despicable,” said Pataki.
Last May, Pataki criticized the state Health Department’s directive ordering nursing homes to admit or re-admit recovering coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals during the height of the pandemic.
Critics have noted the policy contributed to the spread of the killer bug in the facilities housing the frail elderly.
“Just a few weeks we were told there were a little over 8,000 deaths. Now we’re told the number is over 13,000,” Pataki said Friday.
Pataki also described as selfish Cuomo’s decision to publish a book about his COVID-19 leadership lessons just months into the pandemic.
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“Writing a book about how great your leadership was when in fact you’re aware you’re covering up thousands of deaths … Then continuing this charade about what a tremendous response there was. It’s incomprehensible,” the former Republican governor said.
“Writing a book about how great your leadership was when in fact you’re aware you’re covering up thousands of deaths … It’s incomprehensible.”
Pataki, who led the state following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, said, “I wasn’t out there two months after the attack of Sept. 11 waving the flag and saying what a great job I did.
“It wasn’t about me. It was about everyone who responded — the firefighters, the construction workers, the first responders, the people of New York.”
Pataki also ripped Cuomo chief aide Melissa DeRosa’s comments from a private meeting with state lawmakers Wednesday about refusing to release a full count of nursing home deaths because of an ongoing federal inquiry.
The damning numbers would be “used against us” by Trump’s Justice Department, she said. The Post first reported DeRosa’s explanation after obtaining an audiotape of the Zoom chat.
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Pataki called her comments “a cover-up to avoid a possible criminal investigation. It certainly smells of obstruction of justice.”
He also was slammed DeRosa’s apology to Democrats who complained the stonewalling over the nursing home death left them open to criticism from Republican opponents.
“The fact that the administration apologized to Democrat politicians for their inconvenience but never apologized to the people or the families of those who died — that’s inhumane,” Pataki, who governed from 1995-2006, said.
In a statement Friday morning, DeRosa claimed that in her remarks, “I 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.”
In response to Pataki, the governor’s office referred The Post to a statement issued by DeRosa earlier Friday.
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“I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request [for nursing home death data] to deal with the federal request first. We informed the houses of this at the time,” DeRosa said.
“We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked.
“But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic.”