(WTVO/AP) — Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn along with the FBI are investigating New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes after evidence surfaced of his administration under-reporting deaths.
According to ABC News, subpoenas have been issued although the investigation is in its early stage.
The FBI declined to comment on the matter with ABC, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Gov. Cuomo faces intensifying accusations that he covered up the true death toll of the pandemic on nursing home residents, attacks that challenge his reputation for straight-shooting competency and could cloud his political future.
Top aide Melissa DeRosa told lawmakers the data was delayed because officials worried that the information was “going to be used against us” by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice.
The Cuomo administration for months dramatically underreported the statewide number of COVID-19 deathsamong long-term care residents. It is now nearly 15,000, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.
The new toll amounts to about one-seventh of the roughly 90,000 people living in nursing homes as of 2019 in New York, which has among the most care home residents in the nation.
Cuomo has pointed to a small but growing body of research suggesting unchecked community spread is the biggest factor in nursing home outbreaks, and he has said inadequate federal government help with travel restrictions, testing and protective gear left New York City and its suburbs particularly vulnerable.
He has dismissed criticism as political and noted that the thousands of nursing home residents’ deaths in hospitals were always counted in the state’s overall tally.
The higher death tolls were only divulged hours after a report late last month from Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James examining the administration’s failure to include nursing home residents who died at hospitals. The updated numbers backed up the findings of an Associated Press investigation last year that concluded the state could have been understating deaths by thousands.