A third woman has said that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made unwanted advances towards her.
Anna Ruch told The New York Times that in September 2019, she met Cuomo at a wedding. The governor allegedly placed a hand on her bare lower back and called her ‘aggressive’ when she removed it. Ruch said Cuomo then placed his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her.
“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” Ruch told the Times.
Cuomo’s office did not reply to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.
The Times said a friend of Ruch who heard the exchange corroborated the story. Contemporaneous text messages and photographs from the event also corroborated Ruch’s account.
Two former staffers have also accused Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances.
On Friday, Lindsey Boylan, a former staffer, alleged that starting in 2016, Cuomo made unwanted sexual advances toward her. In a Medium blog post, Boylan said she resigned in 2018 after the governor kissed her on the lips without her consent.
Cuomo has denied both of the allegations. In a statement released on Sunday, Cuomo said his behavior towards women had been “misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation.”
“To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that,” he said, adding that he never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone but “teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said he planned to revise his widely criticized plan to have a former federal judge with ties to a longtime ally investigate sexual harassment claims against him.
In a Sunday press release, Cuomo’s office said he would instead ask New York Attorney General Letitia James and Janet DiFiore, the chief judge on the highest court in New York, to name “a jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report.”
“We had selected former Federal Judge Barbara Jones, with a stellar record for qualifications and integrity, but we want to avoid even the perception of a lack of independence or inference of politics,” his office said in a statement.
Cuomo’s announcement Sunday drew a near immediate backlash, however, because of Cuomo’s ties to DiFiore, whom he nominated for her current position atop the New York State Court of Appeals in 2015. Political insiders have previously accused Cuomo of intervening to help DiFiore’s daughter, Alexandra Murphy, secure a seat on the state Supreme Court, the New York Law Journal reported earlier in February.
James also Sunday called on Cuomo to allow her office to investigate the sexual harassment claims leveled against him by two former staffers.
“Allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously,” James, a Democrat, said in a tweet Sunday. “There must be a truly independent investigation to thoroughly review these troubling allegations against the governor, and I stand ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary.”
“Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office and must include subpoena power,” James continued. “I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”
Within the past week, two former staffers have accused the New York governor of sexual harassment in the workplace.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” she told the New York Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
“President Biden has been consistent that he believes that every woman should be heard, should be treated with respect, and with dignity. Charlotte should be treated with respect and dignity, so should Lindsey,” she said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday that President Joe Biden supported an “independent review” of the allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after two women accused the governor of sexual harassment.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the New York Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Bennett’s allegations Saturday followed allegations leveled days earlier in a blog post by Lindsey Boylan, another former Cuomo staffer, who alleged that Cuomo made unwanted sexual advances toward her, including inappropriate touching, for several years before he kissed her without her consent in 2018, leading her to resign from her role.
“President Biden has been consistent that he believes that every woman should be heard, should be treated with respect, and with dignity. Charlotte should be treated with respect and dignity, so should Lindsey,” Psaki said, referring to the two former aides that have accused Cuomo of fostering a culture of sexual harassment.
“There should be an independent review looking into these allegations, and that’s certainly something he supports and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible,” Psaki said during an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, has denied Boylan’s accusations, and on Saturday called for a “full and thorough outside review” following Bennett’s accusations, though he’s been criticized for appointing a former federal judge with ties to a longtime ally to lead it, The New York Times reported.
“Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo are extremely serious and painful to read,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “There must be an independent investigation – not one led by an individual selected by the Governor, but by the office of the Attorney General.”
“The recent allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo are deeply troubling and deserve a thorough investigation,” Nadler said. “It must be transparent, impartial, and above all else, independent.”
State and federal lawmakers are coming out in support of an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In December, a former aide said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists.
Cuomo’s office has repeatedly denied her claims. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.
The New York Times on Saturday published the account of a second former aide who said Cuomo made unwanted sexual advances toward her multiple times.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Charlotte Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Cuomo’s office denied her claims and said the governor had always “tried to act as a mentor to Bennett.” His office also announced a “full and thorough outside review” into Bennett’s allegations.
Former federal judge Barbara Jones, who has close ties to a Cuomo advisor, has been tapped to carry out the investigation. Lawmakers are not convinced that her investigation will be fair and objective.
Instead, they’re calling for New York Attorney General Letitia James to determine the third party that conducts the investigation.
“The recent allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo are deeply troubling and deserve a thorough investigation,” said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler. “It must be transparent, impartial, and above all else, independent. As has become standard practice in the State of New York when allegations relate directly to the Executive, Governor Cuomo should refer the matter to the Attorney General, who should, in turn, appoint an independent investigator.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also called for an independent investigation, saying in a tweet that Boylan and Bennett’s accounts “are extremely serious and painful to read.”
Cuomo’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
James in a tweet Sunday morning said she stands “ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary” but awaits the governor’s call to initiate an investigation.
“Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office and must include subpoena power,” James said. “I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”
A second former aide has come forward to allege that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed her, asking deeply personal questions about her sex life and making strange comments about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.
In an interview published Saturday, Charlotte Bennett, 25, told The New York Times that Cuomo had made unwanted sexual advances towards her in several different encounters last spring.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
The news comes just days after another former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, published a Medium essay alleging several years of sexual harassment at Cuomo’s hands, including an unwanted kiss on the lips. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations.
Cuomo’s office provided Insider with a statement denying that the governor made advances toward Bennett and saying he hadn’t intended to act inappropriately during their conversations. Cuomo’s statement also called for a “full and thorough outside review” of Bennett’s allegations and urged New Yorkers to withhold judgment until its findings are made public.
“Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out,” Cuomo’s statement said, adding that he had tried to act as a mentor to Bennett. “When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful.”
Cuomo continued: “The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”
Bennett said Cuomo responded strangely when she mentioned her experience as a sexual assault survivor
Bennett said the first disturbing incident involving Cuomo occurred on May 15 at the Capitol, when the governor asked her if she was romantically involved with other staff members. Later in the conversation, Bennett offhandedly mentioned her past as a sexual assault survivor and said that Cuomo had a bizarre reaction.
Bennett provided the Times with text messages she sent to a friend at the time about Cuomo’s remarks.
“The way he was repeating, ‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes was something out of a horror movie,” Bennett’s text said. “It was like he was testing me.”
Bennett told the Times another upsetting encounter occurred just weeks later, on June 5. On that occasion, she said Cuomo asked her personal questions about whether her romantic relationships were monogamous and if she had ever had sex with an older man.
Bennett said that Cuomo never touched her during these encounters but that she interpreted his comments as sexual advances.
The Times confirmed Bennett’s allegations with one of her friends, who was not identified, and Bennett’s mother, who she also told about the conversations.
Bennett said she told Cuomo’s chief of staff about the June 5 encounter just days later and gave a statement to a special counsel to the governor that same month. Bennett said she was then transferred to a new job, which she was happy with, and did not insist on an investigation because she “wanted to move on.”
A statement provided to Insider from Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior adviser to the governor, said Bennett’s allegations “were treated with sensitivity and respect and in accordance with applicable law and policy.”
Garvey said Bennett transferred to a job “in which she had expressed long-standing interest” and “expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the way in which it was handled.”
Over the past few weeks, New York’s attorney general released a report showing the state had undercounted the number of COVID nursing home deaths by about 50%, Cuomo senior aide Melissa DeRosa admitted in a conference call with some New York Democrats that the administration “froze” out of fear of a DOJ investigation when the legislature requested nursing home data, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers called for Cuomo to be stripped of the emergency powers he has held since the start of the pandemic.
Kim said Cuomo called him personally and threatened to “destroy” him if he did not amend his previous comments about what DeRosa had said on last week’s conference call. This week, a spokesman for the governor said Kim is “lying” about these allegations, and Cuomo accused Kim of accepting “unethical if not illegal” political donations.
Insider columnist Anthony Fisher spoke with Assemblyman Kim by phone on Friday about feeling “terrified” by the sounds of a screaming Cuomo, why the nursing home catastrophe hits him so personally, and why he thinks the Cuomo administration’s investigation of itself was “complete bullshit.”
This interview has been edited for length, context, and clarity.
A little more than a month into the pandemic in April 2020, you posted a video talking about the surge in deaths at nursing homes in Queens – which was the US’ COVID epicenter at the time.
What made you jump on this issue so early?
It was a very frantic, desperate email from a constituent. I spoke to her on the phone and by the next morning I met her at the nursing home to get to the bottom of what was going on. I emailed and called the nursing home director, but he wasn’t responding.
So I took a softer approach and told him we want to drop off some PPE for you. He came out and I started talking to him. He told me over a hundred people died and it hadn’t been reported. He didn’t know how to handle it, and the Department of Health hadn’t done anything to support him.
And that’s when I realized, “Holy shit. Something is happening and we need to get ahead of this. More people might die.”
That’s when I really started investigating what was going on. And during that time, a couple of articles came out that publicized the situation and people kept piling on texts, emails, Facebook [messages and tweets] telling me about other loved ones and citing similar situations.
The Cuomo administration’s Department of Health last summer investigated and cleared itself of any wrongdoing with regards to nursing home deaths.
That’s when we started to demand an independent commission because these guys were not acting in good faith. I introduced the bipartisan commission with Republicans in the Senate, because we needed a completely independent commission to thoroughly investigate what was going on – with full subpoena power.
The governor said just the other day that if members of the legislature wanted the records so badly they could have just subpoenaed him. Republicans certainly wanted to do it. Why didn’t it happen?
The [Democratic] speaker and the majority leader have those powers. And Gov. Cuomo knows he has a lot of influence on the leadership. It’s a distraction. And I think at this point, we know those words are empty and we’re moving toward an impeachment process, because I think most members have had enough.
After the DOH report came out, Cuomo rarely addressed the nursing home catastrophe at all. But when he did, he’d suggest that even asking questions about nursing home deaths made you the tool of a coordinated right-wing smear campaign.
As a progressive Democrat, how did you feel about being accused of being a tool of a right-wing smear?
Those are just distracting comments. He’s very good at reducing any criticism to either right-wing smears, or it’s just people being incompetent and not understanding information.
I think we’re all catching up to some of those tactics, and he knows that he’s quickly running out of time, and we’re going to get to the truth very soon.
It’s unfortunate it has to be this way. I hope he realizes every second he wastes we’re actually jeopardizing more lives in these facilities, because people are still dying every day in nursing homes from his policies.
It’s just another typical Cuomo distraction. We’ve seen it over and over, it’s part of his tactics. But I’m doing my job and people are still impacted [by COVID]. And instead of talking about the truth, he wants to talk about nail salons.
In a tweet Thursday, you wrote that Cuomo had “pushed for blanket COVID legal immunity for unprepared nursing homes in the budget.” You asked, “Who got to Gov. Cuomo?”
Are you accusing the governor of a quid pro quo?
There’s a saying, “All you have to do is follow the money.”
There were a number of articles that showed the link between healthcare lobbyists that donated close to $1.3 million to Cuomo’s campaign and [Cuomo’s push for added immunity for nursing home executives]. The evidence is there.
The question is who let them into the governor’s office, and why did they slip that toxic law into the budget quietly at the last hour without notifying any members? Those are the tough questions that he needs to face.
And instead of confronting that challenge, [the Cuomo administration] chose to continue to work with the business interest and suppress the data for six months. Someone has to pay for that decision. My role is to continue to push, investigate, and do my job as a chair of the aging committee.
What do you think the governor can do to make this right? Should he resign? Should he face any other sanctions?
I think only Cuomo can answer that question for himself, at this point.
My colleagues are moving toward a number of different ways to protect the integrity of our Senate and Assembly. And I trust that the leadership in the Assembly and Senate will get us to the right place.
People keep forgetting 15,000 died [in New York nursing homes].
I feel like people don’t understand that number of deaths. It’s almost like we helped dehumanize these lives by constantly putting the number up for like six months. It is a shocking, dramatic number of people who died.
If we truly understood, we wouldn’t be able to go ahead and have lunches and dinners without feeling sick to our stomach every day over the fact that we had a state that allowed these many deaths.
You said that Gov. Cuomo called and threatened you. It’s got to be unnerving for the governor to be yelling at you while you’re standing around with your family, especially after you’ve put your chin out there as an adversary in his own party.
How did that call end? Did it just trail off? Or did you push back on Cuomo?
No, I was terrified. I didn’t push back. I wanted to get off as quickly as possible. I just wanted to acknowledge whatever he was saying and get off as soon as possible. No man has ever in my life spoken to me that way. I just told myself, “Don’t say anything stupid. Don’t take the bait.”
What made you want to go public with it? Because obviously that was going to invite more of Cuomo’s wrath.
I think if it had just been regular useless yelling, I think that’s fine, and I probably could just yell back and call it a day.
I wasn’t sure at the time that I was going to go public, but after hearing Monday’s press conference where he continued to double down and tried to implicate the legislature in the coverup basically because we knew about the DOJ investigation, I realized what his pattern is, which is roping as many people into his coverup and his lies, and implicating them.
I sent a memo out Monday night, with my colleagues, pushing for repeal of Cuomo’s emergency powers, and also possible impeachment.
[Editor’s note: Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said Kim is “lying” about the details of this call as “part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration.” Gov. Cuomo on Monday argued for the need to retain emergency powers, saying they “have nothing to do with nursing homes.” On Wednesday the governor flatly-denied Kim’s accusations and said the assemblyman engaged in “unethical if not illegal” behavior in accepting nail salon owners’ campaign donations.]
We wanted to wake up our colleagues. This is corrupt, potentially illegal obstruction of justice. We need to wake up and we can’t be affiliated with this executive. We have to do our jobs. It was a very intense memo. And I got a lot of angry phone calls because of the memo, but I felt like [my colleagues] needed to wake up.
Once that memo went out, I knew that everything had to move forward and we had to deploy everything possible to hold him accountable. And part of that is making sure the public knows that he is an abuser. He tries to abuse people with his powers, for doing their jobs.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined fellow New York Democrats in calling for an investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration’s handling of COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes.
Cuomo is under increasing pressure from both Democrats and Republicans after his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said during a private call with Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld data about COVID-19 nursing home deaths because it was concerned about a potential investigation by President Donald Trump’s Justice Department. DeRosa’s comments were leaked and first published last week by the New York Post.
“Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes throughout the pandemic,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement on Friday. “Their loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership, and the Secretary to the Governor’s remarks warrant a full investigation.”
The New York attorney general, Letitia James, released a report in late January accusing the Cuomo administration of deliberately undercounting COVID-19 nursing home deaths by excluding thousands of nursing home residents who died in hospitals. About 15,000 residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died in New York since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cuomo administration has been under scrutiny for months following the governor’s order sending more than 4,300 COVID-19 patients back into their nursing homes despite concerns that they remained contagious.
A host of Democratic leaders in the state have criticized the administration’s handling of the nursing home crisis.
“Crucial information should never be withheld from entities that are empowered to pursue oversight,” the Democratic Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said in a statement last week.
This week, Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Democrat, said Cuomo called him and threatened to “destroy” him if he didn’t put a more positive spin on DeRosa’s statement. A top adviser to Cuomo subsequently accused Kim of lying about his communications with the governor. But a slew of politicians, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, came to Kim’s defense and accused Cuomo of regularly bullying lawmakers and others.
“A lot of people in New York State have received those phone calls. The bullying is nothing new,” de Blasio told MSNBC.
After being hailed as a hero in the early days of the pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now facing an investigation by federal prosecutors and an attempt by his fellow Democrat state lawmakers to strip him of his emergency powers.
Cuomo has faced increasing scrutiny from lawmakers after recent reports that his administration withheld data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, as well as severely under counted nursing home deaths. The fallout is connected to an executive order issued by Cuomo in March 2020, when hospitals were directed to release coronavirus-positive patients back to their nursing homes.
Now, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the US attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York are investigating Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, the Times Union reported. The US attorney’s office investigation is part of a probe into the top members of Cuomo’s coronavirus task force.
The Justice Department did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“As we publicly said, DOJ (Department of Justice) has been looking into this for months,” Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, told the Times Union. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
Lawmakers in New York from Cuomo’s own party are also pushing back against the governor. Top Democrats in the New York State Senate are trying to remove Cuomo’s emergency powers that he was granted in the early days of the pandemic, The New York Times reported.
The measure, which could come to a vote next week, emerged over a report that Cuomo lashed out at a local lawmaker for criticizing his pandemic response.
Assemblyman Ron Kim, who is one of the Democrats supporting the effort to strip Cuomo’s emergency powers, said Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him if he did not “cover up” for the governor, CNN reported. Cuomo’s adviser denied Kim’s accusation.
Cuomo has been dismissive of the criticism lobbied against him. In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, the governor accused former President Donald Trump, Fox News, and the New York Post of conspiring against him, Insider reported.
He also defended his actions on nursing homes, saying his decisions were based on federal guidance, a claim that Politifact has rated “mostly false.”
Andrew Cuomo and Rudy Giuliani have more in common than they’d probably care to admit.
The Italian-American heritage, the outer-borough New York City roots, and the way they both parlayed their legal backgrounds into elected executive positions are among the more obvious comparisons.
Cuomo and Giuliani also followed similar paths to nationally-acclaimed “hero” status.
And both men soon sullied their ascendant reputations simply by revealing the disagreeable, narcissistic tendencies that were there all along.
Like Cuomo, Rudy was once briefly considered a national “hero”
Rudy Giuliani was always a media heat-seeking missile, going back to his days as a crusading federal prosecutor taking on the New York mafia.
He rode that “tough on crime” persona to two terms as mayor at a time when New York City was emerging from decades of mismanagement, high crime rates, and blight.
Giuliani was the face of the city’s turnaround, but he was also the same face that presided over a New York Police Department rife with allegations of systemic abuse. And he was the “no-fun” mayor who enforced archaic “cabaret laws” that criminalized dancing. He was also a would-be censor for his efforts to shut down the Brooklyn Museum over an art exhibition that offended him.
It’s hard for people under the age of 30 to believe, but I swear it’s true: Rudy Giuliani deserves the credit he got for being “America’s Mayor” on 9/11 and the immediate weeks thereafter.
Giuliani was in the shadows of the twin towers when they came crashing down.
He emerged as a picture of calm, steady, authoritative leadership. He helped tamp down on panic by refuting unfounded rumors. He demonstrated empathy for the loved ones of “the missing” – while grieving for many of his own friends.
As an unflappable conduit of information to a traumatized nation, and later as “mourner-in-chief,” Giuliani presented an image of stoic resilience.
Andrew Cuomo was never as divisive a figure as Giuliani, but he has developed a reputation for being personally disagreeable, vindictive, and autocratic.
All of that receded into distant memory at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
With then-President Donald Trump spreading dangerous misinformation, the New York governor’s daily press conferences became a national balm.
Like Giuliani post-9/11, Cuomo presented as a thoughtful leader, tamping down on rumors and false information, while also not condescending to the public. When relaying the horrifically tragic death tolls, he gave it to you straight, no filter.
Cuomo filled the leadership void, and for that he was feted across the talk show and nightly news show circuits. He hopped on planes for a “victory” tour. And he wrote a book about “leadership” during the COVID pandemic.
There was speculation that Cuomo might replace Joe Biden atop the Democratic presidential ticket. Cuomo’s press conferences earned him an Emmy award. And “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah declared himself a “Cuomosexual.”
So confident in his own greatness was Cuomo that he blithely dismissed calls for an independent investigation into his administration’s order that nursing homes accept COVID-positive patients as dirty Republican trickery. For months Cuomo was able to maintain this posture to little media scrutiny, even though many Democrats demanded greater transparency from the governor.
But then last week a bombshell report from New York’s attorney general Letitia James revealed that the state had been deliberately undercounting its COVID nursing home deaths, by approximately 50%.
And on Wednesday, a state Supreme Court justice ruled the Cuomo administration’s Department of Health inappropriately stonewalled a Freedom of Information Law request into the state’s data regarding COVID nursing home deaths. As a result, New York state taxpayers will have to pay the complainant’s legal bills.
Cuomo, put simply, had finally been revealed as a liar and the worst kind of “leader,” one who couldn’t even acknowledge he had made a mistake.
Take Cuomo’s handling of bars and restaurants during the pandemic.
These are typically small businesses that turn just-modest profits even during boom times. They’re also often the lifeblood of communities. But at every turn Cuomo has shown a clumsy indifference to actually helping people.
The governor arbitrarily added minimum food requirements for any establishment serving alcohol, then ordered strict crackdowns to enforce them.
Similarly, he abruptly shut down indoor dining in New York City in December because of rising COVID rates, but now says they will reopen on Valentine’s Day, even though COVID hospitalization rates are currently about 60% higher than they were in December.
When asked by a reporter if restaurant workers could be added to the new list of vaccine-eligible occupations, Cuomo dismissed it as “a cheap, insincere, discussion.”
A day later, he did an about-face and said he’d allow restaurant workers to join the ranks of the vaccinated.
And this week, The New York Times reported that nine top New York health officials had resigned as Cuomo “has all but declared war on his own public health bureaucracy.” The result has been a horribly botched vaccination rollout and morale “at an all-time low” among the state’s health agencies.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed in a press conference that recovering drug addicts would be among those in New York vaccinated against COVID-19 this week.
The announcement, however, sparked fury from Republican lawmakers.
On Monday, Cuomo told reporters that a batch of the 259,000 expected vaccine doses would go, as a matter of priority, to people served by OASAS – the Office of Addiction Services and Supports.
Cuomo explained that recovering drug addicts will be prioritized because they are living in ‘congregate facilities.’ These are “problematic” because of how densely populated they are, the governor said.
He outlined that, in addition to those at OASAS facilities, people living in nursing homes, and individuals who are administering coronavirus vaccines would also be vaccinated in the upcoming seven days.
“We’ll then continue with high-risk hospital workers, federally qualified health center employees, EMS workers,” Cuomo said.
“Who’s getting the vaccines next week? We expect to open to ambulatory care health workers, public-facing public health workers,” he continued.
The vaccine roll-out plans mean that residents and staffers in state-run and privately-operated rehab across New York will get jabs this week.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York congresswoman and Trump favorite, dismissed the plans as “an absolute disgrace.”
In a tweet, she expressed her fury that recovering drug addicts would get the jab before some senior citizens.
Scott added: “We should be making sure senior citizens, those most vulnerable, and Americans on the front lines combating this virus get priority for the vaccine.”
OASAS, the agency that will oversee the vaccination of their residents, responded to the backlash in a statement made to CBS Albany News.
A spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma against those in recovery when it comes to equal access to health care. These individuals deserve the same access to medical care as everyone else, and those at high risk of COVID should be vaccinated in line with other high-risk populations.”