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Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo subpoenaed to testify before Congress about his handling of nursing homes during COVID

Former Gov. Cuomo subpoenaed to speak about handling of nursing homes
Former Gov. Cuomo subpoenaed to speak about handling of nursing homes 01:53

NEW YORK - Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being subpoenaed to testify before a House committee investigating his handling of nursing homes during the COVID pandemic. 

Cuomo's handling of nursing homes during the pandemic has long been a bone of contention. Families of those who lost loved ones who were patients have charged that he acted inappropriately, and want him to answer for it. 

Cuomo will now have to testify under subpoena before a subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee. But Team Cuomo is crying foul, pointing out that the subpoena was unnecessary because the governor offered to testify, and even offered to provide written answers prior to his appearance

"This is an obvious press charade: they issue a subpoena as a press release," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, adding that the issue had been reviewed three times by the Justice Department and the Manhattan DA. 

"Do your job," Azzopardi fumed. "Ukrainian soldiers are throwing stones at Russian tanks because we haven't sent ammunition and we still don't have a budget. Instead, they continue to play politics with COVID and weaponize people's pain and loss of loved ones. Congress is officially a circus and they are nothing but clowns."

Watch Marcia Kramer's report

Former Gov. Cuomo subpoenaed to testify before Congress over nursing homes 01:44

It's been nearly four years since the pandemic shut down New York, and nearly four years since then-governor Cuomo mandated nursing homes must admit patients who tested positive for COVID. That mandate, as well as Cuomo's transparency about its consequences, is now the subject of the congressional investigation.

At the time, Cuomo garnered national attention for his daily briefings keeping New Yorkers abreast on the epicenter of the pandemic, but now Congressman Brad Wenstrup, chair of the subcommittee, says Cuomo owes answers to the 15,000 families who lost loved ones in New York nursing homes during the pandemic.

"Not only did the former governor put the elderly in harm's way, but he also attempted to cover-up his failures by hiding the true nursing home death rate," Wenstrup said in a statement.

"New York followed the guidance put forth by the Trump administration in March of 2020 - as did other democratic and republican states," Azzopardi said in a statement.  

Watch Ali Bauman's report

Cuomo to appear before lawmakers investigating COVID nursing home deaths 02:21

In January 2020, Ana Martinez entered a Suffolk County nursing home for physical therapy treatment. She stayed there through March 2020, when the 78-year-old contracted COVID and, days later, died.

"My mother, we were expecting her to live a lot longer and she was robbed from us," said Vivian Zayas, co-founder of Voices for Seniors. "Our parents, many of them died avoidable deaths in nursing homes at the hand of the Cuomo administration."

The committee chairman is also accusing Cuomo of trying to delay answering their questions. Cuomo's spokesperson denied that, claiming the former governor offered to testify before the subpoena was issued.

"It's been three years and 11 months that families like myself have been waiting for justice," Zayas said. "We want answers, and just because people are old doesn't mean that they're discarded or treated as if they do not deserve answers for their deaths."

Cuomo's deposition is scheduled for May 24. 

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