Amid a statewide death toll that’s the sixth-highest in the world and continuing controversy over his handling of New York’s nursing homes during the crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday attacked President Trump’s coronavirus response — calling it worse than Watergate.

During a news conference in Manhattan, Cuomo went on a rant against the president, saying that “Trump’s COVID scandal makes Nixon’s Watergate look innocent.”

“No one died in the Watergate scandal,” Cuomo said.

“Thousands of people are going to die in this COVID scandal and that is all the difference in the world,” he claimed.

Cuomo also showed off a 19th-century-style poster he commissioned to tout the state’s — and his own — efforts at “Pulling Down The Curve Together” through “The Power of ‘We,’ ” with a mountain depicting the state’s coronavirus caseload.

The painting, similar to another he released in January to depict his first three terms in office, portrays a series of events from the crisis, including the “NY ‘PAUSE’ Shutdown,” “Mask Up” near the peak and a cascading river of dollar signs labeled “Economy Falls.”

It also features Cuomo behind the wheel of his vintage Pontiac GTO as New Yorkers and others — anchored by his pet dog, Captain — pull on a rope that traces the mountain’s outline.

In the upper right-hand corner, Trump watches with his hands in his lap from a perch inside a crescent moon.

“It’s Just The Flu,” reads a caption underneath.

Meanwhile, the top of the artwork is adorned with a quote from Cuomo: “Wake Up America! Forget the Politics, Get Smart!”

The poster, which includes a timeline covering “111 Days of Hell,” notes that while there were 18,825 statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 on April 12, that number had dropped to just 1,220 on June 19.

But there’s no mention of New York’s staggering death toll, which as of Monday was at least 29,604, according to official state and city figures.

That total is the highest by far of any state in the nation and exceeds every other country’s except Brazil, the UK, Mexico, Italy and France, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Andrew Cuomo
REUTERS

Also during his news conference, Cuomo offered a disjointed defense to questions about the statistics that underpin a Department of Health report that last week cast blame for nursing home deaths away from a controversial Cuomo administration directive that the facilities had to take in COVID-19 patients and instead pinned it on workers and possibly visitors who unwittingly spread the virus.

That assertion runs counter to the accusations of critics who point to the since-abandoned Health Department order that nursing homes admit “medically stable” coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals.

Former Cuomo aide Jim Malatras, now the president of SUNY Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, said the report “used the publicly reported data” — even though the DOH in early May stopped releasing the number of nursing home residents who died in hospitals.

Cuomo added that “if the person goes into the hospital and passes away in the hospital, we call that a hospitalization death, as opposed to try and trace every — from how long did a person need to be in a nursing home from a hospital.”

“Or you’d have to do it the other way, back it out of the hospital deaths, increase the nursing home and reduce the hospitalization. But you add the two numbers together — it’s the number,” he added.

Meanwhile, the state Legislature announced a series of joint hearings into the pandemic’s devastating impact, with two sessions dedicated to the “rate of infection and mortality” in residential health care facilities for the elderly and infirm.

About 6,600 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, according to the latest official figures.
The legislative hearings, which follow bipartisan outrage over the March 25 mandate, are set for Aug. 3 and 10.