Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that New Yorkers deserve to know government officials actually “give a damn” about them, in a clear dig at her disgraced predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.
Hochul met Tuesday with families that lost loved ones in nursing homes due to COVID-19, apologizing to them for the pain caused by the disastrous policies under Cuomo that led to the deaths of over 15,000 seniors in elder care facilities and promising to honor their memories.
“I apologized for the pain that those poor families had to endure as a result of their family members contracting COVID in nursing homes, and it was a very emotional meeting,” she told reporters during a Manhattan briefing Wednesday.
“I thanked them for what they’ve done…which is to fight for people in nursing homes,” she added.
“I work with elected officials, you know, they can disagree with me one day and other day they might agree with me, I just approached this whole thing differently, that people deserve to know that their government, listens and actually cares, and gives a damn about them.”
Hochul pledged to Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), who helped organize the sit down in Hochul’s Manhattan office, and the other family members that she would work to increase data transparency, support a victims memorial to honor the dead and began discussions with her own staff regarding the $4 billion nursing home victims compensation fund proposed by Kim.
Meanwhile, Hochul has promised to hold a follow-up meeting once incoming state Department of Health Commissioner Mary Bassett — who will replace outgoing, embattled DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, who oversaw much of Cuomo’s controversial nursing home policies — assumes her new role.
It’s also a departure from Cuomo, who maintained over the last year and a half that any criticism of his handling of the virus in nursing homes was purely political.
The DOH refused to release the true number of elder care deaths due to the virus for months, until an Albany state Supreme Court judge ruled the agency had to publish all in-facility fatalities as well as those who died in hospitals after being transferred from nursing homes.
The Post exclusively revealed his former top aide, Melissa DeRosa, admitted during a private meeting in February that they withheld pertinent data showing the true number of nursing home deaths from the feds, for fear they would face retaliation from the US Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump.
The stunning admission caused the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office and FBI to launch an investigation into Cuomo’s nursing home policies during the pandemic — which is ongoing — and how that potentially links to the publishing of his $5.1 million book deal for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
That probe, as well as separate inquiries by state Attorney General Letitia James, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the state Assembly Judiciary Committee’s wide-ranging impeachment probe, is investigating whether or not Cuomo illegally used staffers and other government resources to help edit and produce his book.
Cuomo’s attorney protested in a 62-page missive dated July 29 released by the New York Daily News’ editorial board Tuesday that the ex-pol did not improperly benefit from the book deal on the backs of dead seniors by withholding data.