Back in December, former aide Lindsey Boylan became the first woman to publicly accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. Six more women have since come forward, leading to an increasing number of state Democrats calling for Cuomo to resign.
Predictably, the Republican opponents of Cuomo’s aggressive lockdown policies have rallied behind these accusations. But as much as they — or anyone dissatisfied with the fiscal condition of our nation’s largest city — might want to hop on this bandwagon, doing so will only enable Cuomo’s deceitfulness in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let me begin by stating that I am not trying to diminish the allegations against Cuomo in any way. The women who have come forward are courageous for doing so, and their attempts to seek justice are a proper step for their own healing.
What I am referring to with regard to Cuomo is, of course, the New York nursing home debacle. As New York City became a global epicenter of COVID-19 last spring, Gov. Cuomo made a decision that compelled his state’s nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients in an attempt to control the spread. This policy is reflected in a July 2020 report from the New York State Department of Health; said report shows that over 6,000 residents who had tested positive for the virus were admitted to these facilities.
The nursing home admittance policy was not unique to New York, as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy followed Cuomo’s lead. In a time where we knew so little about the disease, Cuomo’s desire to keep COVID-19 from spreading to the rest of his state was an understandable policy. Subjecting so many senior citizens to essentially contract the virus is obviously a bad look today, but we lacked the benefit of hindsight when the pandemic rocked our world last spring.
But then came the cover-up. In July, top Cuomo aides pressured state health officials to omit the true number of nursing home residents who died in the state’s hospitals. Unfortunately, the officials caved under the pressure and published a false report. According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 15,000 nursing home residents were “presumed or confirmed” to have died from COVID-19 — 50 percent higher than the number originally reported.
This extent of this seemingly deliberate cover-up was not revealed until eight months later, and even this seems to be the tip of the iceberg. Constructing a bad policy that diminishes your state’s most vulnerable individuals is one thing, but then refusing to acknowledge the mistake is an irredeemable offense.
Actually, I will take this a step further: not only did Cuomo refuse to acknowledge his mistake, but he gloated through his blunders to soak up his 15 minutes of national fame. On July 20, Cuomo visited Georgia to assist Gov. Brian Kemp with pandemic relief efforts. Had the elders of the Peach State known what we know today, I’m sure they’d have been thrilled to give Cuomo a warm Southern welcome. And let’s not forget that in October, Cuomo still had the audacity to publish a book detailing the lessons he’d learned in “crisis leadership.” Sales of his book have unsurprisingly plummeted in recent weeks, and publishers are pulling it from the shelves.
Now, with sexual assault allegations piling up against the New York governor, it can be easy to forget why he has been falling out of favor since the second wave of COVID-19 struck the United States: Cuomo essentially sentenced thousands of seniors to “death by nursing home,” and then engaged in a cover-up operation that would make Richard Nixon blush.
The growing force of New York Democrats and health officials turning their backs on him are correct: Cuomo has got to go. But to them I say, where were you when the lives of your elders depended on you the most?
(They were probably in Cancún with Ted Cruz.)