Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders are reportedly on notice regarding controversial orders regarding nursing homes and the coronavirus.
According to the New York Post, the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a preliminary probe into whether a total of four Democratic governors helped facilitate the deaths of nursing home residents through the implementation of their policies.
“One of our country’s most important obligations”
As part of the investigation, federal authorities are seeking data from New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey.
Cuomo has perhaps received the most scrutiny for his lockdown decisions — particularly an order requiring nursing homes to admit patients who had tested positive for COVID-19.
New York currently has the nation’s highest coronavirus-related death toll and the second-highest death rate.
The Justice Department is reportedly determining whether a civil rights investigation is warranted into the decisions by Cuomo and Govs. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.
“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiban, who heads the agency’s civil rights division. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”
“Nothing more than a transparent politicization”
Confirmed deaths within New York’s nursing homes now top 6,450, but as the Associated Press reported, the true toll could be as high as 11,000.
Though a state report from New York health officials downplayed any correlation between Cuomo’s order and the spike in nursing home deaths, those statistics have since been criticized as an effort to cover up for the flawed coronavirus response plan.
Whitmer and Cuomo joined forces to issue a statement rebuking the Justice Department’s move.
“This is nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention,” the governors wrote. “It’s no coincidence the moment the Trump administration is caught weakening the CDC’s COVID-19 testing guidelines to artificially lower the number of positive cases, they launched this nakedly partisan deflection.”
Cuomo has also dismissed calls for an outside investigation, saying it would become “political.” Critics of these decisions, however, would argue that it was the Democratic governors who injected politics into a public health crisis plan.