Cuomo Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll

By that point, he was already seeking formal approval from a state ethics agency to earn outside income from book sales, according to a person with knowledge of his planning at the time. The governor’s policy to direct nursing homes to accept and readmit patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus remains a subject of intense debate. An investigation by the attorney general’s office, released in January, said that Mr. Cuomo’s memo to nursing homes was consistent with federal guidance, but it “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.” Ms. Garvey said in her statement that the governor’s order did not drive nursing home deaths, a conclusion that was also reached in the Health Department report. At the time when the report was being debated, Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, still enjoyed broad popularity for his televised news briefings. Dr. Eleanor Adams was the Health Department’s lead on the report, but her draft was substantially rewritten by Mr. Malatras, now the chancellor of the State University of New York system. He was among a number of officials and former advisers temporarily recruited by Mr. Cuomo to assist with the pandemic response. The back-and-forth went well beyond the usual process of the governor’s office suggesting edits to an agency report, and became “intense” at times, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. Health officials felt the governor’s office, whose opinion was conveyed by Mr. Malatras, wanted to simplify too much. They worried it was no longer a true scientific report, but feared for their jobs if they did not go along. Even so, an edited version prepared by Mr. Malatras did not remove the higher death toll. That occurred later, after Ms. DeRosa and Ms. Lacewell became aware of its inclusion. It was taken out soon after. Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.

Cuomo Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll
By that point, he was already seeking formal approval from a state ethics agency to earn outside income from book sales, according to a person with knowledge of his planning at the time. The governor’s policy to direct nursing homes to accept and readmit patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus remains a subject of intense debate. An investigation by the attorney general’s office, released in January, said that Mr. Cuomo’s memo to nursing homes was consistent with federal guidance, but it “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.” Ms. Garvey said in her statement that the governor’s order did not drive nursing home deaths, a conclusion that was also reached in the Health Department report. At the time when the report was being debated, Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, still enjoyed broad popularity for his televised news briefings. Dr. Eleanor Adams was the Health Department’s lead on the report, but her draft was substantially rewritten by Mr. Malatras, now the chancellor of the State University of New York system. He was among a number of officials and former advisers temporarily recruited by Mr. Cuomo to assist with the pandemic response. The back-and-forth went well beyond the usual process of the governor’s office suggesting edits to an agency report, and became “intense” at times, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. Health officials felt the governor’s office, whose opinion was conveyed by Mr. Malatras, wanted to simplify too much. They worried it was no longer a true scientific report, but feared for their jobs if they did not go along. Even so, an edited version prepared by Mr. Malatras did not remove the higher death toll. That occurred later, after Ms. DeRosa and Ms. Lacewell became aware of its inclusion. It was taken out soon after. Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.