UNITED STATES—On Wednesday, February 10, during a virtual call, top aide, to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa admitted to withholding data requested by the U.S. Department of Justice involving the number of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 related issues.

According to reports, DeRosa apologized privately on a virtual call with Democratic lawmakers saying, “We froze” data on COVID-19 deaths among long-term care facility residents out of fear the numbers would, ”Be used against us,” by President Trump and Federal prosecutors.

In a February 12 statement DeRosa, clarifies what happened at the zoom meeting stating:

“I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first. We informed the houses of this at the time. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic.”

“It was based on co-morbidities that the list of co-morbidities are, pneumonia, cancer HIV/AIDS-all these things and they’re guessing that because it was around that time, maybe it was COVID. This was a massive undertaking and it was happening while we were at the height of the pandemic. That’s when the dump happened,” DeRosa continued.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) called for the prosecution of New York Governor Cuomo for hiding facts in the nursing home scandal.

The data reported involved COVID-related deaths of approximately 6,000 people. The actual deaths were closer to 14,000.

DeRosa indicates in a timeline that they may not have gotten the information to the DOJ as quickly as they would have liked and relayed that her answers may have been taken out of context. The DOJ’s request for information was in August 2020.

In an August 2020 press release from the Department of Justice, they requested data from the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in response to COVID-19 in public nursing homes. The data was requested to help inform whether the DOJ would be investigated and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

On Wednesday, February 10, the number of deaths revealed by the state was 15,049, close to 10,000 more people than previously reported by New York State Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker.