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OPINION: Cuomo’s nursing-home coverup needs to be fully investigated

By Will Barclay

Date:

It has never been clearer that there must be a full and immediate investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing-home coverup and the circumstances surrounding the loss of 15,000 senior citizens to COVID-19. A report from the state attorney general indicated missteps by the administration, namely underreporting the true death toll by 50 percent and requiring the homes to admit COVID-19 positive residents, which greatly contributed to the spread of the disease.

The governor’s deflections and finger-pointing have run their course. [In a Feb. 15 COVID-19 briefing], he blamed the failures of the state’s nursing-home response on political attacks, delays caused by his own staff, and a previously unmentioned “void,” which provided a space for conspiracies to take root.

If, as the governor claims, the inquiry from the federal Department of Justice occupied so much time and attention, why not release the information that was ultimately given to federal authorities? Additionally, the state Department of Health has more than 5,000 professionals working for the agency. That would seem to be enough manpower to ensure requests are fulfilled in an efficient manner.

The time for the governor’s spin is over. The time to act is now. Anyone involved in the [state’s nursing-home] decisions must be accountable for their decisions, and right now every possible mechanism to find accountability is on the table.

The New York Legislature must remove Gov. Cuomo’s emergency authorities and initiate subpoena-driven public hearings. The state attorney general’s office and federal Department of Justice must continue with expanded investigations until we arrive at the truth.       

William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly Minority Leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact Barclay at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us. This article is drawn and edited from a statement Barclay issued on Feb. 15 and a Feb. 12 column he wrote.

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