Reason Roundup

Cuomo's Office Covered Up Nursing Home Death Toll Last Summer

Plus: Utah says phones must come with anti-porn filters, bills banning trans girls from sports are trending, and more...


Cuomo aides kept nursing home death numbers quiet. A damning new report from The New York Times suggests Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office knew as early as last June how deadly the governor's plans were proving for nursing home residents, but still concealed this information from the public.

Early in the pandemic, Cuomo had ordered that nursing homes could not reject patients from returning to those facilities after testing positive for COVID-19 and being hospitalized. He also barred the deaths of COVID-19 patients transferred from nursing homes to hospitals after catching the virus from being counted among nursing home COVID-19 deaths.

At this point, New York has seen more than 47,000 deaths from COVID-19, including more than 15,000 deaths among nursing home residents.

Last June, a report from New York health officials listed 9,000 COVID-19 fatalities among the state's nursing home residents. The number "was not public, and the governor's most senior aides wanted to keep it that way," the Times reports.

They rewrote the report to take it out, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The extraordinary intervention, which came just as Mr. Cuomo was starting to write a book on his pandemic achievements, was the earliest act yet known in what critics have called a monthslong effort by the governor and his aides to obscure the full scope of nursing home deaths.

When Cuomo finally released the data this year, he blamed the delay on concern that the Trump administration would play politics with the information. But according to the Times, "Cuomo and his aides actually began concealing the numbers months earlier, as his aides were battling their own top health officials, and well before requests for data arrived from federal authorities, according to documents and interviews with six people with direct knowledge of the discussions, who requested anonymity to describe the closed-door debates."

Cuomo's office told the Times this week that they excluded the data because they "could not confirm it had been adequately verified."


A solution in search of a problem? These days, one of the trendiest ways for state lawmakers to perform conservatism is by introducing bills to ban transgender female athletes from playing on girls' sports teams. "Legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls' sports teams in public high schools," notes NBC.

Yet in almost every case, sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems.

The Associated Press reached out to two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such measures around the country as well as the conservative groups supporting them and found only a few times it's been an issue among the hundreds of thousands of American teenagers who play high school sports.


Utah lawmakers say all phone and tablet manufacturers must pre-install anti-porn filters on their devices. Opponents of the new measure, which is on its way to the state's governor, "argued the proposal is unworkable and could raise constitutionality concerns," notes The Salt Lake Tribune.

"State Sen. Jake Anderegg told his colleagues that the proposal won't work because it tasks manufacturers with turning on the filters — even though the software to do so hasn't yet been loaded onto the devices," the paper points out. "The option to activate the adult content blockers isn't available until further down the supply chain, he said."

Nonetheless, Anderegg voted for the bill, saying it "sends a good message."

"According to analysts, international manufacturers of phones and computers like Apple or Google could face civil liability if they don't comply," notes Gustavo Turner at XBiz, pointing out that the bill was sponsored "by staunch anti-porn crusader Wayne A. Harper" and then "speedily passed by the House only hours after it had cleared the committee stage by the narrowest of margins (a 6-5 vote)" earlier in February.

It passed the state Senate in a 19-6 vote yesterday.


• Some good news on the jobs front this month:

• Last week, Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, Reason's Peter Suderman, and I did a Clubhouse panel discussion on the intersection of journalism, technology, and advocacy, organized and moderated by Ivy Astrix. You can now listen here.

• Kentucky is trying to make it illegal to taunt police officers if it provokes police to violence.

• A Dallas police officer has been charged with two counts of capital murder. Officer Bryan Riser "is charged in the murders of Lisa Saenz, who was found shot dead in the Trinity River in March 2017, and of Aubrey Douglas, who was reported missing in Feb. 2017 but whose body was never found," reports NBC News.