An inquiry by the Department of Justice into how New York and other states led by Democratic governors handled nursing home policy during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is timed with the election season, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said.
And the governor blamed President Donald Trump and the federal government's response to the virus.
"I am holding 'you-know-who' [Trump] responsible for every death in the country because he lied about it from day one," Cuomo said during an appearnace on The View. "They were totally incompetent in what they did."
Cuomo appeared on The View on Thursday morning as part of a virtual tour promoting his book on the pandemic, "American Crisis," which details his behind-the-scenes response from March to June.
But Cuomo has continued to face criticism for his handling of nursing homes earlier this year, including a March order that barred the facilities from refusing to accept COVID-19 positive patients.
Asked about a letter sent this week from the Department of Justice regarding nursing home policies, Cuomo pointed to the looming election, though the Justice officials have sought the data since the summer.
More than 6,400 nursing home residents have died or presumed to have died during the pandemic of COVID-19. The number is likely much higher given the state does not count people who contracted COVID-19 in a nursing home, but died either in a hospital or elsewhere.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to the governor, noted 6,688 nursing home residents have died in Florida, where the total nursing home population is smaller.
"The truth is people are dying today in nursing homes in Republican states," Cuomo said. "It's just Democratic states had the disease first and worse."
And he continued to place blame on staff without symptoms carrying the virus into nursing homes. The state did not bar asymptomatic staff from working in the facilities until April 29, hours after the policy was asked about at a news conference.
"What happened in nursing homes is the disease came in with the staff early on before we understood there was asymptomatic spread," Cuomo said.
The state is yet to provide data on how a report released by the Department of Health in July that concluded asymptomatic people spread the virus was conducted.