Justice Department says it will not investigate Covid-19 nursing home deaths in several states

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By Sunlen Serfaty and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

The Department of Justice volition not unfastened a civilian probe into the Covid-19 effect successful state nursing homes successful New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan, aft the section was seeking to find whether policies issued during the pandemic requiring Covid-19 patients to beryllium admitted into the facilities whitethorn person contributed to deaths.

The announcement successful a missive sent to GOP Rep. Steve Scalise prompted swift outrage from him and different Republicans who person accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, of covering up Covid-19-related deaths successful nursing homes successful his state. Cuomo has denied immoderate wrongdoing, but the state’s handling of the information surrounding deaths successful semipermanent attraction facilities has been the subject of an ongoing transgression investigation by the US attorney’s bureau successful Brooklyn.

In a missive connected Friday that was obtained by CNN, the Justice Department said it “decided not to unfastened a CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act) probe of immoderate nationalist nursing installation wrong New York, Pennsylvania, oregon Michigan astatine this time” aft reviewing accusation provided by the states and different disposable information.

The Justice Department confirmed it opened an probe successful October 2020 into 2 facilities successful New Jersey.

A Justice Department spokeswoman told CNN the section would not remark beyond what is successful the letter. Cuomo’s bureau declined to remark to CNN, and messages near with the different governors’ offices were not instantly returned Saturday.

On Friday, Scalise, who is the apical Republican connected the House Select Subcommittee connected the Coronavirus Crisis, called the Justice Department’s determination “outrageous.”

“Grieving families merit answers and accountability. It’s unconscionable that (President Joe) Biden’s Department of Justice refuses to analyse the deadly actions that went against (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) aesculapian guidance taken successful these states,” Scalise said successful a statement.

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican successful the House, tweeted Friday that the determination was “shameful” and called connected the Justice Department’s inspector wide to look into the matter.

Last August, the Justice Department nether the Trump medication requested Covid-19 information from the 4 states that issued orders requiring Covid-19 patients to beryllium admitted to nursing homes, which the section said “may person resulted” successful the deaths of nursing location residents.

Political absorption connected Cuomo

Cuomo, who was wide lauded successful Democratic circles for his enactment successful the aboriginal days of the pandemic, has since been the absorption of important scrutiny implicit his administration’s guidance regarding Covid-19 and nursing homes.

In March 2020, his medication issued an advisory barring nursing homes from refusing to admit patients solely connected the ground of a confirmed oregon suspected Covid-19 diagnosis successful bid to escaped up infirmary beds.

The directive “may person enactment residents astatine accrued hazard of harm successful immoderate facilities,” according to a January report from the authorities lawyer general. The lawyer wide besides recovered that immoderate nursing homes passim the authorities failed to instrumentality due corruption power measures and did not isolate Covid-19 patients successful nursing homes.

Cuomo’s medication besides underreported the fig of Covid deaths among New York’s semipermanent attraction patients, according to the report, and past delayed sharing perchance damaging accusation with authorities lawmakers.

One of Cuomo’s apical aides admitted successful February that the medication tried to hold the merchandise of the data, wary of a national Justice Department preliminary inquiry.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal besides reported successful March that immoderate of Cuomo’s apical aides allegedly rewrote a June nursing location study from authorities wellness officials to fell the higher Covid-19 decease toll among the state’s nursing location residents.

Facing pressure, Cuomo successful February defended his administration’s delaying merchandise of information connected Covid-19 deaths astatine semipermanent attraction facilities, but took work for not providing the information erstwhile lawmakers requested it.

He claimed that his medication was pursuing CDC guidelines astatine the clip and that recovering Covid-19 patients were transferred retired of hospitals arsenic soon arsenic imaginable truthful they wouldn’t declaration a secondary infection. He besides said nursing homes could lone judge the patients if they were capable to attraction for them.

He besides attributed the virus’ dispersed successful nursing homes to the caregivers alternatively than his administration’s directive.

The nursing location ungraded is 1 of respective caller crises for the embattled Democratic governor, who has besides been nether probe for allegations of intersexual harassment. He has refused calls to measurement down and has denied knowingly acting inappropriately.

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CNN’s Christina Carrega, Elizabeth Joseph, Jamie Crawford, Brynn Gingras, Paul LeBlanc, Lauren del Valle and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

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