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NY Republicans call for DOJ investigation into nursing home deaths

WRVO Public Media File Photo
Southern Tier Congressman Tom Reed spoke alongside NY GOP leaders on Tuesday to call for a federal investigation into the state’s COVID-19 nursing home deaths";

New York Republicans are urging the Department of Justice to investigate the state’s COVID-19 nursing home deaths. Their call comes weeks after state Attorney General Letitia James found that the number of nursing home deaths may have been underreported by the New York Department of Health by as much as 50 percent.

Alongside state leaders in Albany, Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) continued his call for a DOJ investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s management of nursing home deaths.

The DOH initially reported around 9,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but since James issued her findings last month the agency is reporting nearly 15,000 total COVID-19 deaths stemming from nursing homes.

The 6,000-death increase is due, at least in part, to the addition of deaths that occurred after a nursing home resident was transferred to a hospital, which was not included in the DOH’s previous reports.

Speaking alongside State Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt and State Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay, Reed said he wants the Biden Administration to investigate.

“The sooner we get this investigation started, the sooner we can get justice and the sooner we can get information to make sure that this never happens again,” Reed said.

Barclay said he wants to make sure something like this never happens again.

"We want to hold anybody who is responsible for this tragedy accountable. I think that's reasonable," Barclay said. "If there's negligence, someone should be held accountable. That's one thing we have to get through. The other thing we want to do, obviously, we want to make sure that this issue doesn't happen again! We can't continue to be stonewalled. It's very tough to come up with legislation or put protections in place if we don;t know exactly what happened."

On Tuesday morning, Cuomo scheduled a press conference that overlapped with the GOP noon announcement. Reed said he hoped Cuomo used that time to take responsibility for the state’s nursing home deaths.

“I hope he’s at a press conference right now joining with us to say, ‘You know what, I made a mistake,’” Reed said. “He ordered these 15,000 to their deaths, and he’s over there apologizing,”

Cuomo instead announced the state will receive a five-percent increase in its vaccine allocation from the federal government.

Last week, Reed sent a letter with six other Republican members of Congress from New York urging the DOJ to investigate.

The said he wants the agency to use its subpoena power to find answers and bring justice to the families of those who died.