New York will comply with a request for information on deaths at five state-run nursing homes at the height of COVID-19 pandemic in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said in a conference call.
But Cuomo also blasted the request from the U.S. Department of Justice as a political effort aimed at Democratic governors like him and his counterparts in Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
At the same time on Thursday, Cuomo again blasted the Centers for Disase Control after the agency changed its guidance to no longer require COVID tests if a person comes into direct contact with a person who is found to have the virus.
"This is all politics," Cuomo said. "They have their convention on TV at night. They change the CDC guidance to echo their political theme."
The Department of Justice on Wednesday issued the letters to the governors of four states requesting more information on nursing home deaths in those states. In New York, more than 6,300 nursing home residents have died during the pandemic, though the number may be higher given it does not take into consideration those died in hospitals.
Cuomo and the New York Department of health have blamed asymptomatic staff and visitors for spreading the virus in the facilities. The state barred COVID-positive, but asymptomatic staff from working in nursing homes with COVID-positive residents in April.
But a separate March 25 order has also come under scrutiny from lawmakers that required nursing homes to take in COVID-positive residents, an order that was partially rescinded in May to prevent COVID-positive hospital patients from being discharged to the facilities.
Cuomo on Thursday noted Republican-led states have also seen high numbers of nursing home deaths during the pandemic and had similar policies in place.
U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr "has lost all credibility on this issue" and "doesn't even know how to spell 'justice,'" Cuomo said on the call.
His top aide, Melissa DeRosa, added the information the DOJ is seeking is publicly available and would be turned over. But she echoed Cuomo's sentiment about the motivations.
"It was so hyper political," Cuomo said. "They bent themselves into a pretzel."