The #MeToo movement is still alive and thriving in 2021. Several women, including current or former state employees, shared their stories of sexual harassment from New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. On top of that, the Cuomo administration is also under duress for purposely undercounting the number of Covid-related nursing home deaths after discovering an altered health department report. In the past couple of weeks, Republicans and Democrats in Cuomo’s party have called for his resignation.
In light of the accusations, the governor apologized for any “unintentional” discomfort but refused to resign.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” said Cuomo. “I feel awful about it, and frankly, I’m embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
Cuomo’s apology was not taken well by the women who accused him. Lindsey Boylan, who revealed several occasions of his inappropriate behavior over her three years working with him, tweeted out in skepticism over the governor’s statement.
“How can New Yorkers trust you to lead our state if you ‘don’t know’ when you’ve been inappropriate with your staff?” Boylan questioned.
An investigation is currently being carried out by State Attorney General Letitia James— a process that could take several months. Cuomo urges New Yorkers to “wait for the facts.”
The Cuomo administration is also facing strong disapproval for their activity with nursing homes over the pandemic. It began when a March 2020 policy required nursing homes to take back residents hospitalized for Covid-19 after their treatment. Critics accused this policy of driving the high death count, but Cuomo promptly denied this with a Health Department Report containing the death toll.
More concerns were voiced upon this report’s release as the toll excluded any deaths of residents outside the nursing homes, meaning hospital deaths were out of the question. The policy hid the true number of nursing home deaths, and the Justice Department opened an inquiry.
Upon further investigation, it was found that this report undercounted the death toll by nearly 50%, with 3,000 deaths entirely omitted at the time of its July 2020 release. Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, stated that the undercount was because the department was still verifying all of the deaths. Therefore they were not all included in the July report. However, two officials have said that Dr. Zucker had access to the concrete data in June.
In January, Ms. James announced that the administration had undercounted Covid-related nursing home deaths. The same day, the Health Department added 3,800 deaths to its count. A month later, Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Cuomo, stated that the data was withheld out of fear of an investigation by the Trump administration. The documents and interviews show that DeRosa was involved in rewriting the report several months before the Justice Department’s inquiry into the nursing home policy.
“We created a void by not producing enough public information fast enough,” Cuomo admitted. “Conspiracy theories, and politics, and rumors fill the void.”
After serving three terms in office, support behind a fourth Cuomo term is fading.