CBS 2 New York: Hochul Administration Acknowledges 12,000 More COVID Deaths In N.Y. Than Cuomo Admin Publicized

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – In just her second day on the job, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is acknowledging nearly 12,000 more deaths from COVID-19 than had been previously reported.

New York state is now saying 55,395 people have died of COVID-19.

That is based on death certificate data submitted to the CDC.

That is up from roughly 43,400 reported by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his last day in office.

The new total comes after reports about the Cuomo administration’s use of a much stricter definition of COVID-19 deaths than other states.

As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reports, Hochul didn’t waste any time in proving she intends to be the un-Cuomo.

But in releasing new information on COVID deaths, she got a two-fer: Praise for transparency, and a chance to tarnish his image as a truth teller.

“We’re now releasing more data than had been released before publicly, so people will know the nursing home deaths and the hospital deaths are consistent with what’s being displayed by the CDC,” Hochul said.

Tuesday, Hochul said her administration would be more transparent, and Wednesday, she started delivering, acknowledging that there have been 12,000 more COVID deaths here in New York during the pandemic than reported by Cuomo.

A press release put out by Cuomo two days ago, on his last day in office, put the total deaths at 43,404.

“There’s just a lot of things that weren’t happening, and I’m going to make them happen. Transparency will be the hallmark of my administration,” Hochul said.

Reaction to the governor’s move was swift. Many claimed that Cuomo hid COVID death numbers to enhance his reputation.

“It’s pretty obvious that when you’re running around the country, pretending to be the king of COVID, that downplaying the numbers helps that cause. We also know that Andrew Cuomo is a manipulator, and someone who had no qualms about misrepresenting information,” said St. Sen. Michael Gianaris.

Assemblyman Ron Kim, a dogged critic of Cuomo for underreporting nursing home deaths, said he thinks the governor did it to get a lucrative book deal.

“If you’re chasing after a $5.1 million book contract, but if the numbers don’t look good, and you’re now viewed as someone who can’t manage nursing home deaths and fatalities in your state, he might not have gotten the lucrative deal that he got,” Kim said.

When asked if he believed Hochul was sending a message, former governor David Paterson told CBS2’s Dick Brennan, “I think she did more than send a message. In 24 hours, she has changed the culture in Albany already.”

“She let it be known that she is gonna put a stop to all of the shenanigans that have been going on,” Paterson added.

A Cuomo spokesman defended the decision to release lower numbers, pointing out that the governor made a decision to release totals only for deaths verified by lab reports. That number did not include people who died at home, in prisons, and at hospice centers.

“If the new administration wants to make policy changes, that’s their right,” the spokesman said.

“These are presumed deaths and confirmed deaths. People should know both,” Hochul said. “The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what’s happening, whether it’s good or bad. They need to know the truth, and that’s how we restore confidence.”

“That’s what I’ve done for 27 years of elective office. It’s not a new concept to me,” she added.

Hochul’s move has opened up the floodgates. Kim and others are demanding she respond to requests for COVID information filed under the freedom of information law.

Kim also wants her to fire Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

Watch the full story on WCBS-TV, CBS 2 New York