The House of Representatives is gearing up to probe “potential lies and discrepancies” by a one-time top aide to former Gov. Cuomo regarding her involvement in the state’s deadly directive to nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive residents.
The March 2020 order potentially caused 1,000 additional nursing home deaths, according to an analysis by The Empire Center.
During a transcribed hearing behind closed doors this week in Washington D.C., former Cuomo Health Commissioner Howard Zucker told members of the bipartisan House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic that Cuomo’s then-Secretary Melissa DeRosa signed off on Cuomo’s COVID-19 policies.
“During his transcribed interview yesterday, former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, Howard Zucker, testified that former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, played a ‘critical’ role in drafting and implementing the state’s must-admit order,” a committee spokesman told The Post.
“This accusation directly contradicts Ms. DeRosa’s recent letter to the Select Subcommittee where she claimed she does not have any responsive documents nor subject matter expertise to contribute to the Select Subcommittee’s investigation,” the spokesman added. “The Select Subcommittee looks forward to asking Ms. DeRosa about any potential lies and discrepancies during her transcribed interview.”
Former Gov. Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, is facing questions about her role in the state’s botched COVID-19 response. EPA
Dr. Howard Zucker told members of the bipartisan House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic that Cuomo’s then-Secretary Melissa DeRosa signed off on Cuomo’s COVID-19 policies. Stephen Yang
A formal date for DeRosa’s congressional grilling has not been finalized.
Zucker additionally told committee members that he stood behind the science of the must-admit order, and blamed the nursing homes for misunderstanding the state’s guidance, according to information provided by the committee.
Zucker said the order had been based on federal guidance at the time.
The doctor, who now works as a senior official for the Centers for Disease Control, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Post.
A committee spokesman told The Post that DeRosa played a “critical role in drafting and implementing the state’s must-admit order.” AP
“Nursing homes should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present,” noted a March 14 2020 memo from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which added that facilities should “dedicate a unit/wing exclusively for any residents coming or returning from the hospital.”
Critics have long blamed Cuomo, DeRosa, and Zucker for mismanagement during the darkest days of the pandemic.
The state infamously undercounted the true pandemic death toll in nursing homes to keep the information away from federal prosecutors — something for which DeRosa privately apologized to state lawmakers in February 2021.
The must-admit order may have caused thousands of excess deaths according to a watchdog group. AP
“The fact that Melissa DeRosa lied about her involvement in implementing the March 25th order that I believe helped kill thousands of our loved ones is no surprise to any of us. Her hands are just as dirty as her former boss,” said Janice Dean, a Fox News meteorologist who became an advocate on the issue after both her in-laws died from COVID-19 in New York nursing homes.
Team DeRosa denied the allegations.
“Dr. Zucker did not say Melissa played a critical role in the March 25th nursing home admissions policy guidance. As we previously stated, Melissa played no role in the drafting or implementation of the March 25 guidance. What we understand Dr. Zucker did say is that Melissa, as secretary to the governor, played a critical role in COVID response, which is true,” said her attorney, Gregory Morvillo.