FOR WEEKS, Andrew Cuomo believed that all the chatter about the nursing-home scandal, and the creeping doubts about his management of the pandemic, was mere noise. He would get past it, and a glorious spring of vaccinations and school reopenings would give way to a summer of carnivals and crowded beaches and bars. Attention would then turn to his reelection bid, and he would be The Man Who Brought New York Back from its year of covid-induced death and misery.
Forgotten by then would be the directive his administration issued that forced nursing homes to accept covid patients from hospitals, causing, his critics claim, the disease to rip through them like a match in dry grass. Forgotten, too, would be the allegation that the administration covered up the death toll when communicating with the State Legislature and perhaps the federal government.
The Cuomo team has tried to tell its side of the story. The plan was for the governor to calmly work through the facts at one of his famed PowerPoint press conferences: The elderly were moved back into nursing homes only when they were cured of covid. No one, they argue, considers how many people would have died if a hospital bed were taken up by a person who had already recovered. He would remind people what March and April were like: the refrigerated trucks holding the dead, city officials scrambling to figure out where to bury all the bodies, newspapers running front-page stories about whether or not the Rapture was real.
In Cuomoland, this was a scandal manufactured by the right-wing press and its enablers in the Republican Party that was given oxygen by a mainstream media desperate for clicks. It didn’t go unnoticed in the governor’s office that when Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, told Democratic lawmakers that the administration “froze” in response to nursing-home-records requests, the story soon appeared in the New York Post. And yet none of it mattered. Even in the midst of the fallout, he had a 57 percent approval rating.
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