By Emanuela Gallo
For the past year, headlines hailed Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a national hero and model for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, the only headlines he is making are in regards to nursing home death scandals and sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo’s administration undercounted COVID-19 nursing home deaths by the thousands, as reported by New York State Attorney General Letitia James in January.
Soon after, new public data by Health Department officials added over 3,800 deaths to the tally of nursing home residents that died in hospitals. The previous death toll had been undercounted by more than 40%.
Cuomo’s COVID-19 task force had ordered the Health Department to exclude these numbers and only report those who died in nursing homes, as reported by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
The FBI and US Attorney are reportedly conducting investigations into the alleged concealment of nursing home data. Additionally, the New York State legislature passed a bill that would limit Cuomo’s emergency powers.
Following these reports have been claims of sexual harassment against the governor. In February, three women including two former aides have spoken about Cuomo’s inappropriate behavior, including distasteful jokes, comments and touching.
These controversies are a stark contrast to the praise Cuomo has received for the past year. In Nov. 2020, Cuomo was awarded the International Emmy Founders Award for his briefings on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure. People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.
International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences President & CEO, Bruce L. Paisner had said.
Celebrities such as Spike Lee, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro and Billy Joel, spoke very highly of the governor. Billy Crystal said:
In the darkest days of the pandemic, your daily briefings, live from New York, gave us hope, gave us clarity, gave us the truth, and gave us something we were not getting from Washington: Leadership.
This type of sycophantic admiration of Cuomo seems foolish now. Cuomo’s faults not only lie in his failed leadership and inappropriate personal behavior, but also in his inflated sense of hubris.
After months of being praised, it became clear that he, too, also considered himself to be a pandemic leadership expert. In Oct. 2020, he released a memoir titled “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic,” while coronavirus was still raging throughout New York.
Cuomo’s pre-emptive victory lap shows an arrogant lack of regard for his people, who were and still are suffering the economic and health effects of the pandemic. The governor’s downfall from being beloved to disgraced is evidence of the mistake that is worshipping politicians, as so many have done for the past year.