It has been roughly a year since New York was the United States’ epicenter for the Coronavirus outbreak that started making its way through the city and state in March 2020. Back then, no one understood what the virus was or what was happening, and now we look back to the policies and tactics implemented to “flatten the curve” with some more perspective. Every state in the United States had different ideas on tackling this new problem. One that is currently under scrutiny and comes amid a slew of allegations of sexual harassment, is Andrew Cuomo’s New York nursing home policies.
Andrew Cuomo is the 56th governor of New York who has been in office since 2011 as part of the Democratic party. He is also known through his brother Chris Cuomo, who is a predominant CNN anchor that frequently interviewed his brother during the massive viral crisis. Before the 2020 elections, Andrew Cuomo was being considered as a potential candidate for president—or at least—a potential running mate for Joe Biden.
Recently, he has been criticized heavily for the Coronavirus regulations, which he implemented and that affected the elderly living in nursing homes across New York state. Further developments regarding several women coming forward with sexual allegations and his constant “bullying” diminish his reputation even further.
For many months during the height of the pandemic, Andrew Cuomo received copious praise from the media and political figures. Similar to what Franklin D. Roosevelt did during World War II, Cuomo had near-daily press briefings where he promised to be truthful with the public–no matter how devastating the situation is–which made the people appreciate their governor more. Cuomo was even able to release his book in October on ‘leadership lessons’ on how to handle the pandemic.
Subsequently, he is now being reviewed by the state attorney general for the way he handled COVID cases and for withholding information. In fact, according to the state health department, only 8,500 COVID related fatalities in nursing homes have been logged into the state of New York, but new evidence shows that the number of deaths has surpassed 15,000 New Yorkers—meaning that more than 50% of the total deaths went unreported in nursing facilities for an eight-month time frame. So, where did these 6,500 additional deaths go? One of Cuomo’s top aides has now confessed that the governor was covering up the numbers months ago and withholding data because he was afraid the numbers would be used against him by Republican politicians such as Trump.
In response, Cuomo has not argued that the lack of information on the additional 6,500 was due to a “delay” and “mistake.” This has not gone unnoticed, as many have called to the governor accusing him of allowing skepticism, cynicism, and conspiracy theories to run rampant as New Yorkers and Americans tried to make sense of the deaths in the state.
Under further review, many families and New Yorkers are now also questioning Cuomo’s COVID laws. Some are even asking if their family members died because of the laws that were implemented. For example, one measure that is now receiving immense criticism is the guidance memo in which nursing home facilities were required to admit or re-admit people who tested positive of the virus. This meant that elderly individuals who tested positive were not allowed to be admitted into a hospital if they were full and therefore rerouted to their nursing home. Many speculate that this policy could have spread the virus among an already vulnerable group of people. Cuomo’s response to this policy is simply the fact that he was following federal guidelines not to overwhelm hospitals with patients. Many New Yorkers are likely left to wonder if their family members passed away due to this haphazard policy.
One can argue that during the height of COVID, it was effortless to look towards Andrew Cuomo for support and structure. But now, lawmakers, politicians, and other management powers are looking back at the laws and rules that Cuomo enacted. One thing that has become apparent was his grab for power as he issued edicts that had the equal force of law. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, stated that the public deserves to have checks and balances. She inadvertently implied that Cuomo was able to take advantage of the turmoil to bypass the checks and balances that are so heavily instituted in the American government system. This shake in the system is also why Ms. Stewart-Cousins—along with other officials—are creating a proposal that allows for constant input and keeping New Yorkers safe.
This has not stopped the new onslaught of lawyers and politicians that are exclaiming their disapproval and seeking justice against Cuomo. In fact, prominent voices such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and have called for a further federal investigation.
As if lying to the entire public was not already going to tarnish Cuomo’s “impeccable” image, new claims about Cuomo’s verbal attacks and harassment have now been arising. Assemblyman Ron T. Kim came forward to reporters on The New York Times and CNN explaining how Cuomo had berated and threatened him during a call. This “bullying” persona only seems to have been substantiated as others—including several Democrats—have rallied to support Mr. Kim and his claims that Cuomo is nothing but a bully who abused his power. Even Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed his support for Mr. Kim’s claims and has also called for a federal investigation regarding the COVID death scandal now surrounding Cuomo.
Adding more gasoline to the fire that is slowly cooking Cuomo out of his shell—new sexual harassment and harassment allegations seem to be sprouting every day from former aides and individuals who worked closely with the current governor. It started with three sexual-harassment accusations, after which Cuomo finally came out to the public—where his ratings have now begun to plummet compared to what they looked like nine or ten months ago—and apologized for making someone feel “uncomfortable.”
According to a former top-level aid, Lindsey Boylan, she claims that the governor had touched her without her consent and had made frequent inappropriate remarks on her appearance. This led to a second former aid, Charlotte Bennett, who commented on the inappropriateness of Cuomo’s constant questioning of her personal life—and more specifically—remarks regarding the likelihood of a sexual relationship. The third woman, Anna Ruch, shared a similar encounter where Cuomo touched her face and asked for a kiss at a wedding. Her encounter was also caught on camera. Most recently, Cuomo’s heaviest accusation, that of groping a staff member, can lead to criminal charges.
Now, many more women and former staff members have come forward to share their stories, but others express their displeasure of working with the governor. According to several sources, Cuomo fueled a negative and toxic environment for many people that worked with him. Some of them had never experienced stress to their mental health until having worked under his administration.
The chaos surrounding Andrew Cuomo has wholly alienated him from his party as several Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for his resignation. On March 11, the State Assembly announced that a formal impeachment investigation was underway. Democrats asked for Cuomo to resign and step down, which has only been received with harsh push back from Cuomo as he says he refuses to subject himself to Cancel Culture.
It seems like a clock is ticking for Andrew Cuomo as scandals seem to topple over one another. Politicians, in general, tend always to be egocentric and lust for power. But Cuomo wrote a book on how he handled COVID; he accused other governors across the United States for their fatality rate while lying about his own. He claims to be “for the people of New York,” yet lies blatantly to them and the rest of the United States.
Maybe he thought he would get away with the laws he enacted? Or that his harassment would only be seen as some form of “tough love.” If anything, Cuomo may have thought the media was on his side—he is, after all, the Democratic governor of New York, and his brother is a popular anchor at CNN. But now, in the 21st Century, whatever dirt politicians have under their fingernails will be examined. Regardless of what Cuomo believed he was and was not doing—it is clear that the public feels lied to, cheated, and disrespected.