Sunday, June 26th, 2022

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Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo hid the true number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths in a way that misled the public about New York’s true performance during the pandemic, a new audit found.

A searing audit released Tuesday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli appears to confirm long-lobbed accusations that Cuomo and his staff concealed deaths.

All told, the deaths were undercounted by at least 4,100 because of Cuomo officials’ actions, the 41-page audit found.

“Our audit findings are extremely troubling,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The public was misled by those at the highest level of state government through distortion and suppression of the facts when New Yorkers deserved the truth.”

The audit dovetails with other investigations — notably a January 2021 report by Attorney General Letitia James — that found Cuomo and his staff undercounted the deaths.

Find out what’s happening in New York Citywith free, real-time updates from Patch.

But DiNapoli’s probe provides more detail about a spate of behind-the-scenes decisions during the pandemic’s early days, when Cuomo presented an image of competence, compassion and calm as COVID-19 infections and deaths mounted.

State officials initially struggled to get accurate numbers of deaths in nursing homes, which housed people extremely vulnerable to coronavirus infections, according to the audit. By May 2020, officials refined their methodologies and gathered accurate numbers, the audit found.

But those numbers weren’t presented to the public — instead, officials excluded the number of out-of-facility deaths, the audit found.

“This exclusion had the effect of diminishing other states’ performance compared to New York and was misleading,” the audit states.

The audit concluded that health officials, rather than providing accurate information, instead conformed to the former governor’s “narrative” and presented “data in a manner that misled the public.”

Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, in a statement reported by the New York Times, said the number of out-of-facility deaths were reported last January and are “not news.”

“However, what is peculiar is the comptroller’s release of this audit now — but no one has ever accused him of being above politics,” Azzopardi said, according to the Times report.

Cuomo, who resigned in August 2021 amid a sexual harassment scandal, has been attempting a political comeback. He recently appeared in a Brooklyn church and blamed “cancel culture” for his downfall.

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