The end of life, we know, is very much like its beginning. In the end, all of us rely, as did Blanch DuBois in the Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire,” on “the kindness of strangers.”
Nothing is stranger than the kindness of politicians, many of whom affect kindness while the television cameras are running, when they know that kindness can advance their political objectives.
Such is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At the height of the coronavirus plague, Cuomo shipped hundreds of coronavirus infected hospital patients to New York nursing homes, even though other venues were available: a hospital ship sent to New York by then President Donald Trump, a large space in the Jacob Javits Convention Center, and a little used 68-bed tent field hospital set up by Samaritan’s Purse in Central Park, all venues packed with kind medical attendants waiting to care for stricken elderly patients.
The strangers in all three venues waited in vain to dispense their services to fatally infected coronavirus patients. Instead of utilizing the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo shipped the stricken elderly into what may properly be described as death chambers. Upwards of 60 percent of coronavirus related deaths in New York, it had been reported, occurred in nursing homes. Figures in Connecticut were similar. Cuomo only recently received an Emmy for his communication prowess, and he has been haloed with plaudits by both the New York Times and the Associated Press.
We learn from New York Post reports, some of which had once been blocked then reinstated by censors such as Twitter and Facebook, that the actual numbers of coronavirus deaths reported by the Cuomo administration to the relevant federal agency had been previously underreported. New York’s Department of Health undercounted by as much as 50 percent coronavirus deaths in nursing homes. The precise number of nursing home patients that ended up in coffins because of Cuomo’s dictums is now being clarified, following the departure from the White House of former President Donald Trump, who sent the little used hospital ship to Cuomo.
An accompanying cover-up and media manipulation by the Cuomo administration, underreported by some news outlets in states contiguous to New York, may well cost Cuomo his political future. Even now, grief stricken relatives of dead nursing home patients in New York are wondering when impeachment prone Democrats, such as redoubtable Sen. Chuck Schumer, will begin agitating for the impeachment of Cuomo.
The beef on Cuomo, following Post reports and a politically devastating brief by New York’s Attorney General Leticia James, no friend of Trump, is now broiling on left of center spits such as CNN, no friend of Trump. The New York Times, for years in a seemingly endless anti-Trump fume, and the Associated Press — perhaps distracted by their fulsome coverage of the most recent (failed) attempt by partisan Democrats in the U.S. Senate to impeach Trump, a private citizen and no longer an office holder — are considerably behind the times.
The Cuomo cover-up was outed by happenstance. Cuomo’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, disclosed to Democrats in a virtual meeting that New York officials were concerned with a Department of Justice preliminary inquiry into coronavirus deaths in state nursing homes; then too, Trump, still president, was tweeting about the death toll. DeRosa’s “apology” to her Democrat cohorts followed a report, according to CNN, “in late January from state Attorney General Letitia James, noting the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) undercounted Covid-19 deaths among residents of nursing homes by approximately 50%.” After all this, the Cuomo media bubble burst.
Warm on Cuomo and no friend to Trump, CNN reported on the cover-up this way: “But on the private call DeRosa said the administration essentially ‘froze’ because it wasn’t sure what information it was going to turn over to the DOJ, and didn’t want whatever was told the lawmakers in response to the state joint committee hearing inquiries to be used against it in any way.”
The stink of mass deaths in New York nursing homes now hangs over Cuomo’s head, where once a media halo glittered. Governor-in-waiting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has yet to call for Cuomo’s resignation, and the Democrat impeachment crowd is biting its collective tongues. Here in Connecticut, Friends of Cuomo such as Gov. Ned Lamont and members of the state’s all-Democrat U.S. Congressional delegation need not worry they will be pestered by media hounds on the hunt for political blood, and relatives of Cuomo’s nursing home victims will be swallowing their grief in silence.
Donald Pesci lives in Vernon and is the writer of the Red Notes from a Blue State blog.