"The public deserves to have a clear and honest view of what is happening. They need to know the truth, no matter how good or bad it is. That's how confidence can be restored," Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke on NPR.
Hochul's office released its first daily update Tuesday evening on the outbreak. It reported that almost 55,400 people had died from the coronavirus virus in New York, based on data from death certificates submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is an increase from the 43,400 Cuomo reported to public on Monday, his last day as an elected official. After being accused of harassing at least 11 women with sexual harassment, the Democrat who was once highly regarded for his leadership in the COVID-19 crisis resigned. These allegations were disputed by him.
This higher number isn't new. Because of the known gaps in the Cuomo data, federal health officials and some academic institutions that track COVID-19 death in the U.S. use the higher number for months.
Hochul, who was lieutenant governor prior to being elevated to the highest office in the state, stated that it is crucial to be transparent about the numbers.
On Wednesday, she stated on MSNBC that "there were a lot things that weren’t happening" and promised to make them happen. Transparency will be the hallmark my administration."
Rita Glavin, Cuomo's lawyer, and his campaign staff didn't immediately respond to a request to comment.
The Associated Press first reported in July on the large discrepancy between the figures publicized by the Cuomo administration and numbers the state was reporting to the CDC.
The count used by Cuomo in his news media briefings and on the s tate's COVID-19 fatality tracker included only laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported through a state system that collects data from hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities.
This meant that the tally did not include people who died in hospitals, hospices, or state-run homes for people living with disabilities. The tally also excluded those who died from COVID-19, but did not receive a positive test.
"There are confirmed and presumed deaths. Hochul stated that people should be aware of both.
The state's website now includes the higher total as of Wednesday.
The Cuomo administration saw the state Health Department refuse to provide an expert to the AP in order to explain why it continued to publish only the lower tally.
Cuomo was a hero to many Americans during the 2020 pandemic. He gave daily PowerPoint briefings, and used stern, but reassuring, language. Cuomo won an Emmy award and wrote a book about leadership during crisis.
Cuomo's critics have long alleged that he was manipulating coronavirus stats to improve his image. Months later, it turned out that his administration had minimized the death toll among nursing home residents by excluding several thousand who had succumbed after being transferred to hospitals.
Cuomo used these lower numbers to falsely claim that New York had a lower rate of COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes than other states.
Numerous lawmakers representing both parties called Hochul Wednesday to ask him to fire Howard Zucker, the state Health Commissioner. The department did not respond immediately to a request to interview him.
Republican state senator Sue Serino called Hochul’s disclosure "a welcome move forward on the transparency front” and demanded an investigation into New York's COVID-19 response to nursing homes.
She stated that "To rebuild trust in the public, it is important that no one who was involved in manipulating or withholding data from the public has any place in state government."
Federal prosecutors are investigating Cuomo’s administration’s handling of data from nursing homes. The matter is also being investigated by the state Assembly Judiciary committee.
Cuomo's Emmy Award was cancelled this week in the wake the sexual harassment scandal. The publisher of Cuomo's book said that it would no longer print hardcover copies, and would not publish a paperback version.