Why Is Gov. Hochul Stalling the State’s Covid-19 Response Report?

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

Since taking office, Gov. Kathy Hochul has insisted a full review of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response is forthcoming. Yet, as the weeks and months linger on, no such report has been released nor has the administration even hired any consultants or even begun taking contract bids to get to the bottom of what happened. It appears that while the families of those who died continue to desperately seek clarity and answers, the governor is in no rush to provide them.

Sadly, it is not surprising the governor is dragging her feet on the matter. The timeline of events leading up to today — including the previous administration’s disastrous policy to admit COVID-positive individuals into nursing homes and long-term care facilities, subsequent cover up of the true number of elderly New Yorkers who died, the earthshattering investigation from New York Attorney General Letitia James and now obvious stalling on a full report — is clear evidence the governor is afraid of what that report may reveal. Too bad for her, though, hiding from the facts does not make them any less true.

The Assembly Minority Conference long suspected the state’s pandemic response was ineffective, and as such has pushed back hard against any attempts to shield the public from what really happened. My colleagues and I have written letters, requested hearings, asked that those most closely involved be subpoenaed, demanded answers and supported every effort by those impacted to press their representatives and the governor’s office to investigate the matter thoroughly and honestly. This information is critical to ensuring nothing like this ever happens again.

Misleading and dodging the families and loved ones of those impacted is unto itself completely unacceptable. But just as inappropriate is a willful delay or deliberate withholding of critical information that could be applied to future public health emergency responses. This information is life saving and obscuring it for political convenience is well beyond the pale. Simply stated, we need answers. We have needed them for months, and Gov. Hochul’s time is up — no more stalling.

I have spoken to individuals across New York state who have experienced the worst of the pandemic response and they all want the same thing: closure. They are not going to forget what happened, and any political strategy centered on waiting out the public outrage is not going to work. As the state’s chief executive, Gov. Hochul has a moral responsibility to get to the bottom of what happened, and each passing day she does not is a travesty that disrespects the tens-of-thousands of victims and those who mean to prevent another tragedy. I am, again, calling on her to fully investigate the state’s pandemic response, fix prior mistakes and help our state finally heal.