Coumo Subpoenaed By House Committee

In this image taken from video from the Office of the N.Y. Governor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Albany, N.Y. (Office of the NY Governor via AP)

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic has subpoenaed former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to testify on May 24 about his COVID-19 nursing home policies.

This decision comes as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into the effectiveness of federal guidance and regulations implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically regarding the protection of nursing home residents. Cuomo's directive in 2020, which required New York nursing homes to accept patients believed to have COVID-19, has faced criticism and scrutiny, with some claiming it led to preventable deaths.

According to a letter sent to Cuomo by the select subcommittee on Tuesday, the former governor's "decision effectively admitted thousands of COVID-19 positive patients into nursing homes, causing predictable but deadly consequences for New York's most vulnerable." The letter also highlighted the importance of Cuomo's testimony, stating that it is "vital to our investigation into the effectiveness of federal guidance and regulations" during the pandemic. The committee also stated that Cuomo's previous defense, citing federal guidance, would be further explored during his testimony.

Cuomo's original decision to implement the directive in question has faced significant backlash, with critics accusing the former governor of putting vulnerable nursing home residents at risk. However, Cuomo has consistently defended his actions, stating that New York was simply following the guidance set forth by the federal government.

He has also attempted to shift the blame onto the federal government, stating that if anyone is at fault, it is them. In a press conference in 2021, he stated, "it's not about pointing fingers or blame, this became a political football."

In addition to the controversy surrounding his initial decision, Cuomo's administration has also faced criticism for underreporting the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%. This revelation further fueled the scrutiny and has raised questions about the transparency and accuracy of the state's reporting during the pandemic. The select subcommittee's letter also referenced these alleged cover-ups, stating that there is "troubling evidence suggesting the Cuomo Administration at best downplayed its impacts and at worst covered them up."

The select subcommittee, headed by Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, specifically requested Cuomo's testimony because it was his administration that issued the March 25, 2020 nursing home order, which stated that "no resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19." Wenstrup's letter to Cuomo highlighted the potentially deadly consequences of this decision, stating that it led to the admission of COVID-19-positive patients into nursing homes and put vulnerable residents at risk.

In response to the select subcommittee's subpoena, Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi of Bulldog Strategies called it an "obvious press charade." He also referenced previous investigations by the Department of Justice under both the Trump and Biden administrations, Congress, and the Manhattan District Attorney, all of which did not find any wrongdoing by the Cuomo administration. Azzopardi also reiterated Cuomo's defense, stating that New York was simply following federal guidance, which was also followed by other states regardless of political party. He went on to say that the select subcommittee's decision to subpoena Cuomo was "about politics" rather than the facts.

The select subcommittee's decision to subpoena former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signals the ongoing scrutiny and criticism surrounding his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The March 25, 2020 nursing home order, which directed New York nursing homes to accept COVID-19-positive patients, has faced accusations of being a major contributing factor to the high death toll in the state's nursing homes.

Cuomo's defense of following federal guidance has been met with skepticism and the revelation of possible underreporting of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes has further worsened the situation. The upcoming testimony from Cuomo is expected to shed more light on the decision-making process behind the controversial directive and provide further insight into the handling of the pandemic in New York.

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