“Look, I believe Ron Kim when he talks about what he experienced,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC. “And I believe that there has to be a really full investigation here because something happened that potentially means folks who lost their lives, family members were lost who could have been saved, and there has not been a reckoning.”
Calls for investigations from Democrats come on the heels of similar — and louder — requests from scores of Republicans, both in New York and nationally, who have seen Mr. Cuomo rise in prominence over the last year in large part because of his perceived competence in handling the coronavirus crisis as it ravaged the state, killing more than 45,000 people.
With an unbroken string of daily news conferences in the spring, Mr. Cuomo had earned plaudits for a steady demeanor and a just-the-facts approach. Last fall, that image was burnished by a mid-pandemic memoir — offering “leadership lessons” — and the International Emmy Founders Award for “his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.”
But that image began to unravel after the emergence of the attorney general’s findings, and other news reports showing Mr. Cuomo had sometimes discarded the advice of medical experts in guiding his pandemic response.
Questions surrounding the governor’s handling of nursing homes have been percolating since March, when a guidance memo was issued that asked such facilities to admit or readmit people who were positive for the virus, a measure Mr. Cuomo said was justified by federal guidelines and implemented so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed with patients. Still, as the deaths mounted in nursing homes, there was speculation that the guidance — which was revoked in mid-May — could have caused the virus to spread among a vulnerable population.
The controversy erupted into a full-blown public-relations crisis a week ago when Mr. Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, conceded in a private conversation that the administration had not provided state lawmakers with accurate counts of the death toll because of fears over an investigation by the Justice Department under President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Trump had often squabbled, and the governor was concerned that the investigation was politically motivated, Ms. DeRosa said, and that information “was going to be used against us.”