New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's controversial nursing home policy that forced facilities to accept COVID patients went into effect on March 25 and continued for 46 days. But he insists it has nothing to do with the 6,000 senior care fatalities that the state has tallied since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. The number may actually be much higher. (More on that later).
Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, one of many New Yorkers who lost loved ones in nursing homes, was prepared to testify about how Cuomo's mandate led to her in-laws' deaths. But at the last minute, her name had been taken off of the witness list.
What happened to the invitation, Fox News radio host Brian Kilmeade wondered.
"It got lost, I suppose," Dean replied.
Dean said she had filled out all the paperwork and sent her formal request letter to all the lawmakers at the end of July. They told her she'd have a time to testify on Monday, August 10. Several emails confirmed it. And yet, when the time came, she was bumped.
"I can only guess," she said. "I think it went higher than the chairman. I think that it was Andrew Cuomo or his admin that decided they didn't want my voice to be heard. And that's really unfortunate."
"It's just another indication that they don't want a real investigation," she concluded. "This is a complete sham."
Gov. Cuomo has more often than not tried to defer the blame during this pandemic. But according to Dean, "Here in New York, it's on Gov. Cuomo."
Townhall asked Dean if she'd heard back from any Democrats on the panel. All they managed to send her was a generic email about not being able to accommodate her request because of "the very large volume of requests received and limited amount of time."
They "encouraged" her to tune in to the live broadcast.
Later, Dean learned some interesting details about her "lost" invitation. Apparently, Senate Democrats were too "uncomfortable" having her in a witness chair.
And there it is. Thank you @SenatorOMara:— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) August 11, 2020
“Assembly Health Cmte chair wrote, “I have been told that ‘The Senate is not comfortable including her on the witness list, so we will not be including her to testify.’” https://t.co/Pp6atDAI4J
I’m truly amazed that apparently my appearance at today’s @NYSenate nursing home hearings would’ve made people “uncomfortable” and that’s why I was taken off the witness list. Wish they had put that in writing so I could frame it.— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) August 11, 2020
The Senate Majority later sent a statement to Fox News, insisting that "every victim should have their story heard and it's deeply troubling that she wasn't given the opportunity to provide testimony at today's hearing."
The New York Senate GOP excoriated their counterparts for refusing to let her speak.
The only thing that's "deeply troubling" is that the Democrat Senate Majority took @JaniceDean off the witness list.— Candice Giove (@candicegiove) August 11, 2020
They take their marching orders from @NYGovCuomo and they took away her opportunity to provide testimony at yesterday's #nursinghome hearing. pic.twitter.com/RpHL9Z3kmd
"Fox & Friends" gave Dean the chance to share part of her testimony on Tuesday morning. She spoke warmly of her late in-laws, Mickey and Dee Newman, who she called the epitome of "New York Tough."
“I just wanted to tell my story," she said, fighting back tears. "I wasn’t – I don’t want to be in this position. I’m not a political person but if I can be the voice for the families that have lost loved ones and I have made one difference for one family, then it was all worthwhile.”
As it turns out, the Cuomo administration may be hiding the actual number of COVID-19 related nursing home deaths. As the Associated Press reported, the number they provided - 6.000 fatalities - could be "a major undercount" because it only counts residents who died on nursing home property, not those who died after being transported to hospitals.
And no, Dean didn't take the Democrats advice and tune in to Monday's hearing. She maintained that these hearings won't produce any substance until they bring in witnesses by subpoena.