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Experts will review nursing home deaths as part of an investigation into New York's COVID response

Mike Groll
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday that she's putting together a team of independent experts to look into the state’s nursing home policies during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when thousands of elderly residents died.

Saying the “people of the state deserve to know,” Hochul said she's launching the analysis of every aspect of the decision-making process during the pandemic to find out what worked and what did not.

“The good, the bad, the ugly,” said Hochul, who added the examination will also include the effectiveness of mask mandates, economic shutdowns, and remote learning.

A report by state Attorney General Tish James found that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration undercounted by 50% the number of deaths in nursing homes during the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. At the time, Cuomo was writing a $5 million memoir about his leadership abilities during the pandemic.

The controversy, and a sexual harassment scandal, led to Cuomo’s resignation last August. Cuomo denies all of the allegations.

Sen. Jim Tedisco, along with Assemblyman Ron Kim, is a sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would authorize an investigation of nursing home policies, with subpoena power. Tedisco, in a statement, said he hopes Hochul’s examination will not be a “whitewash” of what he said was Cuomo’s cover-up of the real number of nursing home deaths.

Hochul said she’ll be releasing more details about the investigation soon.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.