Report Condemns Cuomo’s Authoritarian Handling of COVID Crisis in New York

An investigation into New York’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approach of centrally dictating public health policy caused confusion during the crisis, rather than coordinating with state and local agencies.

The lack of communication between Cuomo’s administration and agencies and facilities in the state’s nursing homes, where approximately 15,000 deaths occurred, led to wasted resources and mistrust. This also caused anxiety for the loved ones of nursing home residents, according to the independent probe commissioned by current Governor Kathy Hochul in 2022 and released on Friday.

While the investigation found that the policies regarding COVID-19 in nursing homes were rushed and uncoordinated, they were based on the best scientific understanding at the time. The report by The Olson Group praised the state’s rapid and comprehensive vaccination program in these facilities and noted that fatality rates were consistent with the national average.

Cuomo’s administration faced scrutiny for initially requiring nursing homes to readmit COVID-19 patients in an attempt to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Additionally, the state significantly undercounted the number of deaths. Earlier in the week, Cuomo, a Democrat, was called to testify on these issues before a GOP-led Congressional subcommittee investigating the nation’s pandemic response.

In response to the report, Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi defended the former governor’s actions, stating that the circumstances were consistent nationwide.

The report criticized Cuomo’s centralized emergency management approach, which disregarded the state’s existing emergency plans based on previous experiences. This led to unintended consequences, such as an oversupply of milk after the state ordered a significant amount of raw milk to be rerouted from dairy manufacturers to bottling plants.

The report concluded that Cuomo’s decision to centralize the state’s response in his office was a significant mistake, causing unnecessary confusion when clarity was needed during the crisis.

Cuomo resigned from office in August 2021 amidst sexual harassment allegations, which he denies. Hochul, also a Democrat who previously served as Cuomo’s lieutenant, succeeded him and was reelected the following year.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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