by Joel Abbott · Feb 1st, 2021 2:42 pm Last Updated Feb 1st, 2021 at 10:36 pm
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged mishandling of the pandemic drove nine top state health officials to quit and undercut pandemic efforts, according to a new report from the New York Times.
The Times detailed how Cuomo “has all but declared war on his own public health bureaucracy,” showcasing how he ignored expert advice and issued top-down orders without consulting anyone within the health department.
In one example, the governor shelved a vaccination distribution system that had been created out of years of planning following the terrorist attacks of 2001.
Local officials complained about Cuomo’s decision, saying it would undercut vaccination efforts.
Instead of relying on the health department, Cuomo “spoke with hospital executives, outside consultants, and a top hospital lobbyist in closed-door meetings” in order to craft his own plan, which reportedly benefited his donors.
“The state designated as a regional vaccination hub in New York City not the city’s 6,000-person Health Department, but rather the Greater New York Hospital Association, a trade group with a multimillion-dollar lobbying arm that had been a major donor to the governor’s causes,” said the Times.
Former New York City Health Department Deputy Commissioner Dr. Isaac Weisfuse said Cuomo’s actions “seemed to go against the grain” and negated “15 to 20 years of work” in pandemic response planning.
The governor responded to the criticism by saying he is a “fighter.”
“If Times reporters think I push hospitals too hard and local governments too hard, I say I’m a fighter for the people of New York and I believe I’m saving lives,” said Cuomo.
He also indicated a mistrust for experts.
“When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts,” said Cuomo of the planned pandemic policies, “Because I don’t. Because I don’t.”
Morale in the health department is reportedly at a historic low, with nine top staff members leaving over the last year due to frustrations with the governor.
The news builds on the momentum of last week’s formal report on nursing home deaths in the state, where New York Attorney General Letitia James found Cuomo’s administration had understated the number of nursing home patients that died from COVID-19 by more than 50%. Part of Cuomo’s initial pandemic response was to send sick patients into such facilities.
🔦 In New York, 43,000 individuals have died as a result of COVID-19, more than any other state in the nation. (Click to Source)