Gov. Andrew Cuomo's in hot water following a report claiming his administration severely undercounted COVID-related deaths in nursing homes ... but he's not backing down.
Cuomo says he understands the pain and instinct to place blame, but Friday he adamantly defended his state's Department of Health ... claiming everyone has been doing the best they can do.
He also repeated his belief that the nursing home death count issue is a political attack started by President Trump's HHS. Cuomo claims his state health dept. was following federal guidelines ... and the whole issue's become a "political football."
As for the actual death count discrepancy ... both Cuomo and his health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, claim they've been transparent about how nursing home deaths were only counted if they were in-facility, and that there were additional deaths at hospitals.
Cuomo added ... the COVID-related deaths of seniors are a tragedy, regardless of where they occurred -- hospital or nursing home -- but he's not accepting blame for any alleged coverup or undercounting.
The governor's reputation took a blow Thursday when a report from the New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, suggested state nursing home deaths due to the virus were thousands higher than reported.
The Health Department later increased the public death tally of nursing home residents by 3,800 ... putting the new total at 12,743, about a 40 percent increase.
Many view the much higher statistics as a poor reflection on Cuomo's policies pertaining to the nursing home industry.