New York Gov Kathy Hochul Explains How Andrew Cuomo Got Handsy With COVID Death Toll Math
New York's new governor, Kathy Hochul, has gotten right to work fixing some of the messes left for her by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned before he could be impeached over multiple allegations of sexual harassing women. Yesterday, Hochul corrected the record on New York's total number of deaths from COVID-19, adding some 12,000 deaths that Cuomo's administration had left out of the official tally, the AP reports.
"The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what's happening. And that's whether it's good or bad, they need to know the truth. And that's how we restore confidence," Gov. Kathy Hochul said on NPR.
In its first daily update on the outbreak Tuesday evening, Hochul's office reported that nearly 55,400 people have died of the coronavirus in New York based on death certificate data submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Under Cuomo, the official state count on his last day in office had been 43,400. See what a great job he did of containing the crisis? As of this morning, Cuomo has not yet released a bizarre video showing him making common everyday math mistakes to suggest there was nothing unusual about the data manipulation.
Hochul told MSNBC yesterday that "There's a lot of things that weren't happening, and I'm going to make them happen. [...] Transparency will be the hallmark of my administration."
The AP explains that the Cuomo administration's fudged numbers hadn't exactly been as secret as Cuomo might have wanted:
The higher number is not entirely new. Federal health officials and some academic institutions tracking COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been using the higher tally for many months because of known gaps in the data Cuomo had been choosing to publicize. [...]
The Associated Press first reported in July on the large discrepancy between the figures publicized by the Cuomo administration and numbers the state was reporting to the CDC.
Cuomo's data deception relied on One Weird Trick, which was as bogus as any clickbait using that phrase. The state's official tally relied on only counting COVID deaths that had been confirmed by lab testing, and that had been "reported through a state system that collects data from hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities."
That conveniently left out a lot of New York COVID deaths, by excluding
people who died at home, in hospice, in prisons or at state-run homes for people with disabilities. It also excluded people who doctors believed died of COVID-19 but never got a positive test to confirm the diagnosis. Such tests were scarce in the initial months of the pandemic, when hundreds of New Yorkers were dying each day.
"There are presumed and confirmed deaths. People should know both," Hochul said.
A spokesperson for Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, said that only "clearly labeled confirmed COVID deaths" had been included in the Cuomo administration's count, because accuracy, don't you see? He noted that since the CDC wanted records of "presumed" deaths, they had been reported to the feds as required, just not added to the state tally.
And besides, he fudgesplained,
"New York always reported these numbers and they were always publicly available," Azzopardi said. He didn't address why the state had chosen not to add deaths outside hospitals and nursing homes.
Gosh, that one is a stumper.
That's not the only example of Cuomo's administration playing games with COVID data, either, the AP points out. In the spring of 2020, when the pandemic was hitting New York hardest of any state and Cuomo was getting attention as a no-nonsense guy who told the people the truth, his own administration was up to some data manipulation nonsense that hid the actual truth.
Months later, it turned out that his administration had minimized the death toll among nursing home residents by excluding several thousand who had succumbed after being transferred to hospitals.
Cuomo used those lower numbers last year to erroneously claim that New York was seeing a much smaller percentage of nursing home residents dying of COVID-19 than other states.
Several state lawmakers from both parties called Wednesday for Hochul to take the additional step of shitcanning state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who they said had been complicit in the COVID-19 data manipulation.
Republican state Rep. Sue Serino said that rebuilding public trust would only be possible when "anyone who had a hand in manipulating or withholding relevant data from the public no longer has a place in state government." To make it bipartisan,
Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat who chairs the Senate Health Committee, was among those calling for Zucker's removal, saying he "aided and abetted in the worst times of the pandemic what is obviously the governor's efforts to burnish his image."
"What you have here is just the clearest evidence, as if we didn't have enough, that this administration went out of its way to make the governor seem much better, much more skilled and that he had handled the pandemic much better than anyone else," Rivera said.
Sounds good to us. And we hope Hochul has had the governor's office exorcised, too.
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