Gov. Kathy Hochul is slow walking a probe into New York’s reaction to the pandemic until after her election challenge this November, her opponent charges.
“Why is Kathy Hochul so afraid of any more facts being released prior to the November 8th election? Because Hochul was complicit in many COVID related scandals and she knows it,” Republican candidate Lee Zeldin charged on Wednesday.
Zeldin has promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate pandemic-caused nursing home deaths if elected and has accused Hochul of sitting on the results of any inquiry until after the election.
He added that Hochul was the No. 2 elected official in the disgraced Governor Andrew Cuomo administration during the worst phase of COVID-19 and alleged that made her complicit during the implementation of questionable policies including nursing home deaths.
Hochul announced on Wednesday that she issued a “request for proposals” to hire a firm to conduct an “After Action Review” that includes looking at the controversial transfer of recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals into nursing homes and interactions between state, local and federal officials during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020.
She expects the review to begin in September with initial findings being made after her election challenge in November.
The governor said the look-back should provide lessons to better prepare New York officials in the future when responding to a pandemic and other public health catastrophes. The review includes communicating with the public and deployment of government staffing and resources.
“The aim of the review is to better inform New York State’s Pandemic response, and is not intended to conflict with other outside reviews,” Hochul said.
Zeldin has stated that Hochul had not spoken out enough when it came to criticizing her predecessors handling of the pandemic, which included scandals connected to VIP testing for well-connected people and $5.1 million controversial book deal inked by Cuomo.
“Hochul can’t hide behind the excuse that she didn’t know about any of this, because this all became public knowledge and Hochul still stayed silent,” Zeldin insisted.
In response, Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays said, “New Yorkers who have lived through being at the epicenter of a global pandemic, lost loved ones and experienced economic hardship deserve a thoughtful, meaningful, and independent after action review, and we won’t rush through this important work for the political calendar.”