It’s hard to believe that the governor who likely is responsible for more of the coronavirus deaths in America than anyone else is receiving so much praise.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has faced criticism for his order requiring nursing homes to take coronavirus patients and his lack of transparency about nursing home deaths related to that order. His state has the highest death count and second-highest death rate to COVID-19 in the U.S.
Yet, Cuomo himself and now others are heaping praise on him for his supposedly strong leadership during the crisis.
On Friday, the International Emmy Awards announced the New York governor as the winner of its Founder’s Award “in recognition of his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.”
“The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,” said Bruce L. Paisner, CEO of the International Academy, in a statement. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.”
Other past recipients of the Founder’s Award include Vice President Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.
New York has the highest coronavirus death count and the second highest death rate in the U.S. According to NBC News, as of Friday, New York had 34,919 reported deaths.
Gov Andrew M Cuomo of NY will receive the International Emmy Founders Award in recognition of his leadership during the Covid19 pandemic & his masterful use of TV to inform & calm people around the world. The Emmy will be presented to @NYGovCuomo on Nov 23 https://t.co/dwKIImwYNV pic.twitter.com/1mKkmg6FKW
— International Emmy Awards (@iemmys) November 20, 2020
Cuomo has refused to admit any fault for the high death numbers, which many attribute to his order to place coronavirus patients with the elderly and people with disabilities, those most vulnerable to the virus, in nursing homes.
The governor repeatedly has slammed state and federal officials for launching an investigation into the matter.
“I think you’d have to be blind to realize it’s not political,” Cuomo said in August. “Just look at where it comes from and look at the sources and look at their political affiliation and look at who wrote the letter in Congress and look at what publications raise it and what media networks raise it.”
However, the New York state legislature is controlled by Cuomo’s own Democratic Party. And, as the Times Union noted, numerous news outlets, not just conservative ones, have reported on the problem, including the left-leaning investigative publication ProPublica.
In October, the U.S. Department of Justice asked the state for data about the 600-plus nursing homes in the state as well as detailed information about hospital deaths related to COVID-19.
Officially, New York reported 6,722 deaths at nursing homes due to the coronavirus. However, the state tally only includes people who died at the facility; nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals and died there are not included in the total.
Times Union columnist Chris Churchill, the Associated Press and others believe the 6,700-plus nursing home deaths are a “significant undercount.”
“The state is hiding the truth in other words – perhaps to make a controversial March 25 order requiring that nursing homes accept COVID-19 patients appear less catastrophic than it really was,” Churchill wrote in reaction to the Department of Justice investigation.
ProPublica, a left-leaning investigative news publication, also criticized the Democrat governor for releasing a book praising himself for his handling of the virus – despite his failure to be transparent about the nursing home deaths.
“Cuomo’s new book on leadership, published as the pandemic continues to ravage America, touts his willingness to speak hard truths about the pandemic,” it wrote. “Why then has he still not said how many nursing home residents perished on his watch?”
Many New Yorkers also are demanding answers. The Empire Center for Public Policy recently filed a lawsuit demanding that the state release its data on nursing home deaths.
Janice Dean, a senior meteorologist at Fox News, has been a leading critic of Cuomo after both her in-laws died from the coronavirus in March in assisted living and nursing home facilities in New York.
Like so many others, Dean said she wants to know why the governor put vulnerable nursing home patients at risk, why he did not use the other makeshift hospitals for COVID-19 patients instead and why the state still has not released the total number of nursing-home deaths linked to the virus.
“This is not political. It’s about accountability @NYGovCuomo,” she wrote on Twitter. “We won’t stop.”
But praise for Cuomo also has not stopped as his allies ignore bi-partisan pleas for transparency and the countless families like Dean’s seek answers about their loved ones deaths.