The Perfect Enemy | Kathy Hochul launches Cuomo probe, findings unlikely until after election
August 10, 2022

Kathy Hochul launches Cuomo probe, findings unlikely until after election

Kathy Hochul launches Cuomo probe, findings unlikely until after election  New York Post View Full Coverage on Google News

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Gov Kathy Hochul on Wednesday initiated an independent probe of the Cuomo administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic — but even preliminary results aren’t expected until after the November elections.

Critics, including nursing home advocates, have accused Democrat Hochul — who faces off against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk) in the governor’s race this November — of slow-walking her promised no-holds barred analysis of the administration’s handling of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

The concern is fueled by Hochul having been then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant governor during the health crisis — with critics saying that potentially makes her complicit in any findings.

Hochul announced she issued a “request for proposals” to hire a firm to conduct an “After Action Review” that includes looking at the controversial transfer of recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals into nursing homes and interactions between state, local and federal officials during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020.

“We’re going to be covering the transfer policies related to medical procedures and hospitals. And patient facilities. The transfer of individuals, vulnerable populations into congregate settings, homeless shelters, group homes, nursing homes, jails,” Hochul said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the launching of an independent probe into the Cuomo administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Some independent studies suggested that a controversial Cuomo administration March, 2020 edict that required nursing homes to accept recovering COVID patients contributed to the spread of infection and deaths among the frail elderly in those facilities.

Other reports, including one issued by state Attorney General Letitia James, found Cuomo’s team deliberately undercounted COVID-linked nursing home deaths.

Cuomo and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio clashed over COVID policies, which former city Health Commissioner David Chokshi said hindered New York’s public health response to the deadly pandemic that killed tens of thousands of residents. Both also grappled with former President Donald J. Trump over pandemic-related decisions.

The contract is for one year but preliminary results are expected in six months, Hochul said during a COVID-19 press conference.

The preliminary results of Hochul's probe won't be available until after the November gubernatorial election.
The preliminary results of Hochul’s probe won’t be available until after the November gubernatorial election.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

The contract will be awarded to a firm in September with work beginning in November.

Jackie Bray, the state director of homeland and emergency services, will oversee the inquiry.

Hochul said that any consultants previously involved in the state’s response to COVID-19 are barred from participating in the review to guarantee impartiality. Cuomo and his health department were accused of issuing a self-serving report that absolved state policy of contributing to nursing home deaths.

The governor said the look-back should provide lessons to better prepare New York officials in the future when responding to a pandemic and other public health catastrophes. The review includes communicating with the public and deployment of government staffing and resources.

“The aim of the review is to better inform New York State’s Pandemic response, and is not intended to conflict with other outside reviews,” Hochul said.

Hochul said the probe will help the state create a “planning guide for future emergencies.”
Hochul said the probe will help the state create a “planning guide for future emergencies.”
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

She promised the “most comprehensive” study of the pandemic response in the nation that will provide a “planning guide for future emergencies.”

The review also will look at determining which businesses are considered essential during a public health crisis, securing goods such as personal protective equipment and the protection needed for essential workers and other employees.

Nursing home advocates welcomed the report.

“It took 16,000 nursing home deaths and arm twisting for Hochul to get this study off the ground,” said Vivian Zayas, co-founder of Voices for Seniors whose mother, Ana Martinez, died of COVID-19 in a nursing home in 2020.

“I think it’s self serving,” she added.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin accused Hochul of being "complicit in many COVID related scandals."
GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin accused Hochul of being “complicit in many COVID related scandals.”
William Farrington

Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor who has promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate pandemic-caused nursing home deaths if elected, accused Hochul of sitting on the results of any inquiry until after the election.

He added that Hochul was the No. 2 elected official in the Cuomo administration during the worst phase of COVID-19 and alleged that made her complicit during the implementation of questionable policies.

“Why is Kathy Hochul so afraid of any more facts being released prior to the November 8th election? Because Hochul was complicit in many COVID related scandals and she knows it,” Zeldin said.

The GOP hopeful charged that Hochul had not spoken out enough when it came to criticizing her predecessors handling of the pandemic, which included scandals connected to VIP testing for well-connected people and $5.1 million controversial book deal inked by Cuomo.

“Hochul can’t hide behind the excuse that she didn’t know about any of this, because this all became public knowledge and Hochul still stayed silent,” Zeldin insisted.

In response, Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays said, “New Yorkers who have lived through being at the epicenter of a global pandemic, lost loved ones and experienced economic hardship deserve a thoughtful, meaningful, and independent after action review, and we won’t rush through this important work for the political calendar.”