Janice Dean demands accountability from NY Gov. Cuomo after report on COVID-19 nursing home deaths

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update from the Red Room at the State Capitol on January 29, 2021. | Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, whose in-laws died from the novel coronavirus at New York nursing homes, responded to a report from the state's Attorney General’s Office that found COVID-19-linked deaths in the state’s nursing homes were undercounted by 50%.

Dean addressed a report from New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, in an op-ed published Thursday. Dean has emerged as a vocal critic of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, arguing that his executive order that required nursing homes to admit coronavirus-positive patients contributed to the death of her elderly in-laws and many others residing in the state’s nursing homes.

Dean likened James’ report to “a door opening, with a glimmer of light peeking through,” adding, “One of the most stunning findings from the report is that the nursing home resident deaths appear to be undercounted by New York State Department of Health by approximately 50 percent.”

She said the report “finally confirmed that the nightmare we have been experiencing was very real.”

New York has one the highest COVID-19-linked death rates per 100,000 residents in the country. 

After the report was published, officials disclosed nearly 4,000 additional deaths among nursing home residents.

During a press briefing on Friday, Cuomo derided the report on nursing home deaths as being nothing more than a “political attack.”

“Where this starts is frankly a political attack from the prior federal administration,” Cuomo charged.

Last year, the DOJ “requested data from Cuomo and three other governors about orders related to nursing home residents with COVID-19. It later expanded its request, asking for detailed numbers from hundreds of facilities in New York state,” The Epoch Times reported.

The DOJ said at the time that the data “will help inform whether the Department of Justice will initiate investigations under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.”

“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” then-Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said back in August. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”

On the Fox News program “The Faulkner Files” Thursday, host Harris Faulkner read aloud a portion of the report that said: “Government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.”

Dean, who appeared as a guest on the program, emotionally recalled phone conversations she had with her husband and sister-in-law following the publication of the report.

“Maybe the angels won, maybe the angels will have their day in court, and maybe this governor will be held accountable,” Dean said she told them. “I’m not a political person, but my family was affected and I wasn’t seeing the coverage, I wasn’t seeing the questions being asked of this governor. He continued to pass the blame on everyone else and everything else and he still, to this day, will not accept any responsibility.”

“This is never a role I thought I would ever be in, Harris, but I’m so grateful today that justice might be served,” she continued.

During an appearance on Fox Business Network’s “The Evening Edit” later in the day, Dean described the report as “light at the end of a very dark tunnel,” adding that the report “says everything that we have been saying from the very beginning.”

“This governor’s mandate of putting COVID-positive patients into nursing homes had a grave consequence,” Dean stressed. She called for “an independent bipartisan investigation with subpoena power to get the governor and his health commissioner on the stand to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and let us have our moment as well to tell him what he’s done to our families.”

“We want the answers, but we also want accountability from this governor, his administration, and his health department,” she continued. Dean expressed hope that the report was “the start of a bigger investigation into this governor and his administration.”

During her appearance on “The Evening Edit,” Dean also signaled support for a federal investigation into nursing home deaths, explaining that “Cuomo wasn’t the only governor that put into effect that mandate of putting COVID-positive patients into nursing homes.”

She added, “It happened in California, in Michigan, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”

“Why did those Democratic governors decide that these nursing homes should be infected with COVID patients?” she asked. “It makes no sense. They were our most vulnerable, they were sitting ducks.”

While Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in New York state has won him praise from the mainstream media, as Dean has repeatedly noted, he has also received intense criticism from other big names in New York politics.

According to a New York Post report published last summer, Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has led George Pataki, the most recent Republican to serve as governor of the Empire State, to consider running against Cuomo in 2022, when the current governor will seek a fourth term.

“At least one Pataki confidante said the situation has angered him enough to even consider running against Cuomo in 2022 and denying him the same fourth term Pataki denied his father, Mario, in 1994,” the report said.

Pataki defeated the Democratic incumbent Mario Cuomo, Cuomo’s father, in the 1994 gubernatorial election and served as governor through 2006. No Republican has won the governorship of New York since.

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