A scathing new report slams former Gov. Andrew Cuomo for botching the state’s COVID-19 response — saying he erred by bumping state health officials out of the way so he could micromanage the pandemic from the executive office.

Cuomo made an “a significant and unnecessary mistake.” when he ignored established health department protocols set up to address the virus and took the initiative away from local communities, according to the 262-page report by The Olson Group, a consulting firm.

“The state had the plans but did not follow them because the executive chamber wanted to do their own thing,” said one official interviewed by the authors. “If the state had used the plans that were available and written, then, yes, they would have had the proper plans in place.

“But instead we were stuck with all these executive orders.”

A new consultant’s report rips former Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he micromanaged the response and ignored long-planned measures in place. LightRocket via Getty Images

The report said the Cuomo administration simply abandoned preparedness plans already in place — which called for the state health department to take the lead.

For example, the department’s long-planned system for providing community-based vaccination sites was thrown out the window, with Cuomo instead dictating that “hub hospitals” would offer the shots — despite not having the capability to do so effectively.

“The structures developed through hard-won experience from events including 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy were largely ignored and the state’s chief executive office served as the central point of the response.”

“Although decisive actions were widely praised during the early stages of the pandemic, his failure to shift to full incorporation of the state’s established institutions in coordinating the ongoing response operation resulted in unnecessary confusion at a time when New Yorkers needed clarity.”

While the report raps Cuomo for alleged micromanaging, it does not say if his approach led to extra cases for deaths. The Empire State suffered 77,000 deaths during the pandemic.

The report also chided the state’s reporting of nursing home fatalities, calling it “lacking in transparency” — hitting on one of Cuomo’s biggest controversies during the health crisis.

While the pandemic overwhelmed the state’s health and educational systems and brought the business and retail community to its knees, Cuomo didn’t help things, the report said.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic left a lot to be desired, according to a scathing report released on Friday. Getty Images

“The state did not consider the appearance of impropriety related to how it was reporting COVID-19 nursing home deaths until the public was already upset, having noticed and reported the discrepancies.”

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi defended his former boss in a statement Friday, saying the former governor “brought the unified force of government to bear” during the deadly pandemic.

“His daily press briefings were internationally recognized for providing the facts amid a chaotic lack of a national response to this pandemic where 1.2 million Americans lost their lives,” Azzopardi said.

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“While this report cuts through the political garbage that has consumed the nursing home issue and points out how circumstances were consistent nationwide, it’s ridiculous to suggest that this pandemic response be treated the same as H1N1 or Legionnaires outbreaks,” he said.

“The truth is in the numbers,” he added. “In 2020 New York was number 39 in terms of pro rata nursing home deaths, according to federal stats, and and we went from having the second most deaths because New York was hit first and hardest to 30th.”

The COVID pandemic disrupted life in New York, posing unprecedented challenges for the health and educational systems as well as the business community. Getty Images

The release of the report — which cost $4.3 million — comes on the heels of Cuomo’s grilling by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, with the GOP majority on the panel accusing him of deflecting responsibility for the order that shuffled sick patients into senior care facilities in 2020.

The report said the scandal was a part of “the theme of mistrust” in the handling of the pandemic.

However, Ken Girardin, director of research at the Empire Center for Public Policy, called the Olson report “little more than a high school term paper” about the state’s handling of the COVID crisis.

A spokesman for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended his former boss, saying he rose to the challenge and minimized the impact of the virus on the Empire State. Getty Images

“The biggest cost incurred by state government was the theft from the unemployment system,” Girardin said. “There appears to have been zero investigation into the warning signs and failures at NYS DOI.”

Asked about the report at a briefing Friday. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she had not yet read it but took her own shot at Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic.

“We knew that things had to be done differently, they had to be done better and we had to prepare for the possibility that this would happen again,” Hochul said.

She said steps have been taken to better prepare the state, including a bump in funding for the state Office of Emergency Management and a $1.7 billion investment in a new research lab.



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