ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — As more than 1,000 nursing home residents in Erie County have died from COVID-19, New York Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's office released a new audit showing deaths may have been severely undercounted, and the public misled.
Former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo claimed in a new TV advertisement that he made a difference during the pandemic, "and we led this nation through the frightening COVID crisis," he said.
But the scathing audit found the Department of Health and former Cuomo administration's handling of COVID-19 data to be "extremely troubling."
The audit sought to find if reported COVID-19 data was accurate and reliable.
Among the key findings, the Department of Health understated nursing home deaths from COVID-19 by more than 4,000.
Data was presented in a manner that misled the public, to allegedly help Cuomo's narrative, and officials felt they could not freely speak about concerns if their opinion was different than the governor or his staff's.
"As the number of out of facility deaths were reported last January this is not news, however what is peculiar is the Comptroller's release of this audit now — but no one has ever accused him of being above politics," wrote Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi in a statement to the I-Team.
Attorney General Letitia A. James responded to the audit, saying it affirmed what her office found last year.
The correct total number of deaths is still uncertain.