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New York Democrats Block Attempt To Subpoena Health Commissioner Over Nursing Home Deaths

Mike Wren
New York State Department of Health
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

Republican lawmakers on a New York investigations committee tried to subpoena State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker on Monday. They wanted him to explain irregularities in how the state reports coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes.

A state probe last week found that Zucker could have underreported these deaths by up to 50%.

Eastern Long Island Senator Anthony Palumbo accused the health department of hiding the full impact of the state’s COVID-19 plan for nursing homes.

“Why are we relying on what they are telling us? They have been obviously lying and concealing them for political gain, and the cover up is worse than the crime,” Palumbo said.

Democrats blocked the Republican push for the subpoena by ruling it out of order.

However, Top Democratic Senator James Skoufis threatened to subpoena Zucker last week before the probe was released. Skoufis said he is eager to get answers from Zucker at a February 25 budget hearing.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's afternoon news editor. Formally WAMC’s Berkshire bureau chief, he has reported for public radio stations, including bylines with WSHU, WNYC, WBUR, WNPR and NPR. J.D. has reported on healthcare and small businesses for "Long Island Business News" and real estate and land-use for The Press News Group newspapers. He also hosted, produced and engineered award-winning programs at WUSB Stony Brook. An avid fencer in his free time, J.D. holds a B.A. in journalism and sociology from Stony Brook University and an M.S. in communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.