Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit to Uncover How Many Seniors Andrew Cuomo’s Order Killed

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 9, 2021   |   1:36PM   |   Washington, DC

Judicial Watch today announced it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The legal group is searching for info that could help uncover and expose the actual number of nursing home residents killed when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his order putting COVID positive patients in the homes.

The legal group is seeking communications between Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Redfield and New York State and federal government officials regarding COVID-19 deaths reported by New York (Judicial Watch Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-01210)).

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after HHS failed to respond adequately to a March 11, 2021, FOIA request for:
  • All emails sent to and from CDC Director Robert Redfield regarding the numbers of deaths reported by New York State government officials due to Covid 19 (also known as SARS-Cov-2 or the novel coronavirus); and
  • [A]ll emails between CDC Director Robert Redfield and other federal and state government officials with accounts ending in @cdc.gov and/or @exec.ny.gov, regarding the veracity of official numbers of deaths reported by New York State government officials due to Covid 19/SARS-Cov-2.

In January 2020 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration was reported to have “confirmed thousands more nursing home residents died of COVID-19 than the state’s official tallies had previously acknowledged,” and according to New York Attorney General Letitia James, “the nursing home death count could be off by about 50%.”

On April 28, 2021, The New York Times reported:

The effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office to obscure the pandemic death toll in New York nursing homes was far greater than previously known, with aides repeatedly overruling state health officials over a span of at least five months, according to interviews and newly unearthed documents.

The Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home death data now is the subject of a federal investigation, one of at least four overlapping inquiries into the governor and his administration. As of this month, more than 15,500 nursing home residents with Covid-19 have died.

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“We have little confidence that Gov. Cuomo’s corrupt political allies in DC and NY will do a competent investigation of his nursing home scandal,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This new lawsuit aims to allow the American people to find out now, not years from now, what Gov. Cuomo is hiding.”

Earlier this year, Judicial Watch also sued HHS for records about New York and Pennsylvania nursing home policies and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an explosive new New York Times report, several of Cuomo’s top aides helped to hide approximately 9,000 people’s deaths to COVID in nursing homes last year.

At the same time, the Democrat governor was receiving massive media praise for his handling of the pandemic and getting ready to profit from his new book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” according to the report.

It gets worse. The report also identified one of the aides as Melissa DeRosa. She is closely related to several employees of “the hospital lobbying group that wrote Cuomo’s liability shield for nursing home execs,” according to Daily Poster editor Andrew Perez. The Poster identified DeRosa’s father, sister and brother as high-level employees of the group.

For months, LifeNews and other conservative news outlets have been reporting on Cuomo’s disastrous March 2020 nursing home policy, which forced nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients. The order put coronavirus patients together with the elderly and people with disabilities, those most vulnerable to the virus. The governor later reversed the policy.

Approximately 15,000 people have died of COVID-19 in New York nursing homes since last year. But the Cuomo administration publicly reported the death toll at about half of what the state Department of Health data showed, according to the Times.

This changed in January when New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, released a report accusing Cuomo and his administration of covering up approximately 4,000 individuals’ deaths in nursing homes to COVID-19.

A few days later, DeRosa told state Democrat lawmakers that the administration withheld the actual death numbers because they were worried the information would “be used against us” politically. She later backtracked on the comment.

The Times; report suggests that money, power and public perception — not people’s lives — were at the root of the Cuomo administration’s actions.

As Fox News reports, the alleged cover-up by Cuomo’s aides happened just four days before he sought “formal approval from a state ethics agency to earn outside income from book sales.”

Here’s more from the report:

[In July,] Cuomo’s most senior aides rewrote a report originally written by state health officials to remove a reference to 9,000 nursing home deaths “just as Mr. Cuomo was starting to write a book on his pandemic achievements,” the Times reported. …

[Later,] Cuomo’s book became a New York Times bestseller and Amazon gave the once-popular governor the honor of making the book an “Editors’ pick” in its nonfiction section.

While this was happening, Cuomo and his administration touted his leadership during the pandemic on CNN and other national news outlets. Cuomo’s brother Chris is a CNN news anchor. Last year, the Democrat governor also won an Emmy Award for exhibiting “leadership” during his daily online COVID-19 conferences.

During a press conference, Cuomo refused to admit responsibility for his actions or resign.

“I do not believe I have ever done anything in my public career that I am ashamed of,” Cuomo said. “Some politicians will always play politics … I don’t think today is the day for politics,” he responded. “I wasn’t elected by politicians. I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.”

Janice Dean, a Fox News meteorologist whose in-laws died in New York nursing homes, has been leading New Yorkers in demanding accountability from Cuomo.

“He still hasn’t apologized to 15,000 families,” Dean responded after Cuomo’s press conference.

In March 2020, Cuomo began requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients – an action that placed potentially contagious people together with those most vulnerable to the virus.

Originally, New York reported 8,110 deaths at nursing homes due to the coronavirus. However, the state tally only included people who died at a facility. Nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals and died there were not included in the total.

According to the attorney general’s report in January, the actual total was 12,743.

After the report broke, a state Democrat lawmaker, Assemblyman Ron Kim, D-Queens, said Cuomo called him at home and threatened him after he accused the governor of covering up the death total.

New York has one of the highest COVID-19 death numbers and death rates in the United States – a status it has maintained for months, according to coronavirus statistics updated daily at NBC News.

Four other Democrat governors also ordered nursing homes to take coronavirus patients in 2020 before reversing their orders: New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Some of them now are facing investigations as well. These states are among the top ten for the highest coronavirus deaths in the country.