Former Republican New York Gov. George Pataki said Thursday the news that the state had dramatically undercounted the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes is “a new low” in an already-tragic story of bad governance.
“This is a new low,” Pataki told Fox News’s “The Story.” “For months, legislators, everyone’s been trying to get those numbers from the governor’s office and they just stonewalled. And now we know why: and the reason is because they were misrepresenting it from the beginning.”
A report released by the New York attorney general Thursday revealed that the state may have undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%. Critics have already castigated Cuomo for his March 25 nursing home order that sent thousands of coronavirus patients into assisted-living facilities in New York. The order was only rescinded May 11. (RELATED: Janice Dean Wonders If Andrew Cuomo’s Emmy Will Include ‘In Memoriam’ Section For Nursing Homes)
“This has just been a disaster from the beginning,” Pataki said. “It’s kind of ironic that the press looks at him and says, ‘What a great job,’ but all you have to do is look at the fact that we have almost as twice as many deaths as in Florida and see how competently the Cuomo administration has handled this crisis.”
The former governor said a leader should do two things in a crisis: Make good decisions and “communicate honestly with the people.” Pataki insisted Cuomo “failed miserably” to fulfill either of these criteria. “They made the wrong decision on nursing homes, they refused to corrected it when it was pointed out, and now it appears they lied to the people of New York about what those consequences actually were. This is inexcusable.”
Fox News host Trace Gallagher noted that Cuomo said Tuesday, “Incompetent government kills people … That’s the truth. Incompetent government can kill people. This is not a joke. More people died here than needed to.”
“He’s not talking about himself but he is correct. Incompetent government can kill people,” said Gallagher.
“That’s one of the few things Gov. Cuomo got right and he should have been looking at the mirror when he said it,” Pataki responded. “Because he’s the one who dictated that nursing homes take COVID positive patients when they were desperately saying they were not qualified, not capable of dealing with it … I was one of the first to say this is idiotic and it’s going to kill people.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: New York Admits Knowingly Undercounting Nursing Home Deaths)
“There has to be an investigation and there has to be subpoenas. It has to be the state legislature and it has to be the attorney general and I believe federal officials should look at this as well,” Pataki said.
“You can’t trust the Cuomo administration to investigate itself … They conducted their own internal investigation and … it was just a cover up. Now we know that numbers have been covered up. This demands a subpoena investigation to hold them accountable and I hope it’s quickly and I hope it’s aggressive.”