Republican Assemblyman Angelo Morinello and members of the minority conference held a press conference Thursday calling for a subpoena of New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. The lawmakers said they want Zucker to testify and provide all data on nursing home deaths, as well as all communications from the Department of Health and other parties that led to what they called a “staggering number of nursing home deaths, as well as the governor’s decision to fail to disclose nearly 50% of deaths that occurred in New York state nursing homes since the onset of the pandemic.”
Morinello said, “The report from the attorney general, and lack of action or responsibility by the governor and his administration, is extremely upsetting and troublesome. Hearing that the number of deaths as a result of the governor’s careless decision was underreported by as much as 50% is unforgivable. Families who put their faith into the system to ensure the health and safety of their loved ones are now learning the unspeakable horrors that occurred throughout our nursing homes since March, and after all they still weren’t given the decency to be told the truth. Commissioner Zucker and Gov. Cuomo must be held accountable for this injustice; far too many questions remain unanswered.”
A press release said, “According to Section 62-A of legislative law, if a majority of members on a given committee sign a petition, authority is given for that committee to issue a subpoena for an individual to appear before that committee to answer questions.”
There are seven members on the Assembly oversight committee: five Democrats and two Republicans. Only two Democrat members are needed to be able to issue a subpoena to Zucker and compel him to answer questions following the nursing home report by the attorney general.
“Legislative hearings must take place regarding the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic within nursing homes by Gov. Cuomo’s administration. This isn’t an issue of Republican versus Democrat; it's an issue of humanity,” Morinello said. “Transparency and responsibility are two pivotal foundations of democracy and a government, and hearings into what occurred would be a first step in restoring that eroded foundation.”