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NYS Health Commissioner testifies in front of lawmakers

Posted at 7:31 PM, Feb 25, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — It was the first time Senators and members of the Assembly here in New York State have had to chance to directly ask questions to the Cuomo administration following the bombshell reports that the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo withheld and covered up deaths in nursing homes related to COVID-19.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker appeared before legislators to answer health related budget questions. Questions surrounding the administration’s alleged nursing home cover up were looming.

“I ask you at long last will you and the Cuomo administration admit to your culpability of these deaths,” said Senator James Tedisco. “They died because they got the virus in a nursing home,” he said.

“It’s troubling to me that all the data has shown it is not what brought the infection into nursing homes,” Zucker said.

Zucker appeared to use the same statement whenever asked, saying that the March 25 Executive Order by Cuomo to allow COVID-19 positive nursing home residents back into the home wouldn’t have changed much because of the increased spread in the community during that time, thus, resulting in increased spread in nursing homes.

“That is how it spread,” he said. “98% of all the nursing homes had COVID in it even before anyone was sent back to a nursing home.”

“We now know that data was withheld for reasons that I determine are shameful,” Senator Rob Ortt said.

Zucker fielded more than 70 questions during the more than five hour meeting. There were time limits to the questions, and he told legislators that he would provide a written response to any questions he couldn’t get to.