Assemblymember Kelles Statement on NY AG’s Nursing Home Report

Ithaca, NY — I am alarmed by the Attorney General’s report that the actual number of deaths related to COVID-19 in New York nursing homes far exceeds what has been reported by state health officials and Governor Cuomo’s Administration.

Equally troubling are reports that simple safety protocols - such as pre-screening and targeted isolation - were not practiced at certain nursing homes, compounding the risk of infection among a highly vulnerable population at the height of the pandemic.

My colleagues in the legislature previously requested information regarding the Governor’s early response to the pandemic, including executive orders directed to nursing homes specifically. The Governor has not answered those requests. This report creates a clear mandate to provide this critical and necessary information.

The number one weapon in the war against COVID-19 is trust. New Yorkers deserve to know that government officials are making decisions and creating policy in the public’s best interest, based on the best available science. Without full transparency towards the outcome of public decisions - whatever they may be - we rightly lose the trust of our constituents, and the moral authority to lead the public through crisis. If Governor Cuomo and Health Department officials continue to withhold information, we must initiate hearings to investigate how the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, and whether enough steps are being taken now to protect our most vulnerable residents.