Cuomo, a Democrat, received further criticism over remarks made during a press conference on Friday, his first public statement made since state Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, said that the state Department of Health underreported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.
Trying to defend himself with statistics, Cuomo said, “A third of all deaths in this nation are from nursing homes. New York State we’re only about 28% — only. But we’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes. But who cares? 33, 28 died in hospital, died in the nursing home – they died.”
“Whenever you hear him say ‘who cares,’ every time that video is played, I think of the family that lost a loved one – a mom or dad, grandma or grandpa. I don’t look at this story about being about data, statistics, numbers – this is a coverup,” Zeldin, a Republican representing New York’s 1st congressional district, said in an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“It’s a coverup of a policy that ended up resulting in that grandmother or grandfather losing their lives,” he told host Maria Bartiromo. “Early on, this is the end of March 2020, New York State ordered these nursing homes to take in infected patients and place them with healthy residents and then it spread like wildfire — which is even a term that Gov. Cuomo has used, and then they covered it up.”
“We’re seeing more get exposed this past week after this AG’s report came out in New York State, but now the families want even more,” Zeldin continued. “They want not just more information and transparency – they also want accountability. This is criminal what happened.”
Cuomo has come under fire for his executive order in the early months of the pandemic directing nursing homes in the Empire State to accept patients who had or were suspected of having COVID-19. He rescinded the policy in May, and the governor has repeatedly defended the policy as falling in-line with guidance from the Trump administration at the time.
In response to the state attorney general report, Cuomo dismissed criticism against him as a “political attack” carried out by the former Trump administration. But Michael Caputo, assistant secretary of public affairs for the Health and Human Services Department under President Trump, fired back, arguing experts at the Health and Human Services administration identified Cuomo’s “foolish” executive order as a primary cause for thousands of nursing home COVID deaths in New York early on, and Cuomo, therefore, must be held accountable.
Cuomo was reportedly considered as Biden’s pick to become U.S. attorney general before Biden selected Judge Merrick Garland. He is up for reelection in 2022 for what would be his fourth term.
“I think much of New York State is done with Andrew Cuomo,” Zeldin said. “He’s up for reelection again in 2022. We don’t have term limits in New York statutorily, however, we do have term limits when New Yorkers go to the ballot box, they don’t have to keep reelecting him.”
“This is someone who will be going for his fourth term and there’s a certain amount of arrogance as if his tough work is done. Now it’s about collecting Emmys and writing books, he’s not talking about restoring freedoms. He’s not talking about cutting taxes, he’s not talking about public safety,” Zeldin continued. “Instead, they’re going the other way with cashless bail, and you see the defund the police movement in New York City, so hopefully New Yorkers take action and save our state next November 2022.”
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips and Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.