After awarding praise to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN Tuesday refused to comment on Cuomo’s brewing nursing home scandal.
“You’re a New Yorker yourself, though you don’t live there right now. Andrew Cuomo is coming under criticism now for the big move back to long-term care facilities in the midst of this crisis here,” said “CNN Newsroom” host Jim Sciutto, according to WFMZ-TV.
“[Cuomo has] argued that his state was following federal guidelines when he ordered those long-term care facilities to accept patients returning from hospitals. I wonder, can you clear that up. Was he actually following federal guidelines to do that?” Sciutto asked.
“You know, Jim, I can’t. I mean, I’m sorry. I’m really. I’m honestly not trying to evade your question, but I’m not really sure of all the details of that, and I think if I make a statement, it probably could either be incorrect or taken out of context,” Fauci responded.
“So, I prefer not to comment on that,” he concluded.
Fauci, who has directed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, of course, heaped a great deal of praise on New York’s leaders last year, more than once.
“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York,” Fauci told “PBS NewsHour” of his native state last July.
“New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly by doing the things that you’re talking about,” he added.
New York initially claimed 8,500 people died in long-term care facilities after the state forced them to bunk with COVID positive patients in the early days of the health crisis last year,” according to CBS News.
Cuomo’s administration now admits that the death toll is closer to 15,000 people lost in nursing homes, and Cuomo is meeting a bipartisan denouncement.
The Empire State’s COVID death toll is second only to California’s by fewer than 1,000 deaths, according to the latest case data. New York has lost 46,320 people to the coronavirus while California’s death toll stands at 47,119. California has reported more than twice as many cases as New York.
The New York Post reported that Melissa DeRosa, an aid to Cuomo, told lawmakers on a private call last week Cuomo was hesitant to report the true scope of the state’s handling of the pandemic over fears there would be an investigation. DeRosa, in fact, blamed former President Donald Trump.
”[W]e were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys and what we start saying was going to be used against us, and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” said DeRosa.
“[Trump] starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” she added. “He starts going after [Democratic Gov. Phil of New Jersey], starts going after [Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California], starts going after [Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan].”
The comments outraged already upset Republicans, and Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio then called for Cuomo to be stripped of his emergency powers.
“It’s very troubling. We’ve got to know more. We now need a full accounting of what happened,” de Blasio said on a local radio show last week, Fox News reported. “Think about seniors, [whose] lives were in the balance and their families, you know, just desperate to get them the help they needed,” he said.
“We need to know exactly what happened here. We need to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” added de Blasio.
Some New York state lawmakers have also called for Cuomo’s emergency powers to be stripped in a statement issued by more than a dozen Democratic state senators.
“Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government. While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state– and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments– it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate,” the statement read, according to Fox News.
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