In a letter on Friday that was obtained by CNN, the Justice Department said it “decided not to open a CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act) investigation of any public nursing facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time” after reviewing information provided by the states and other available information.
The Justice Department confirmed it opened an investigation in October 2020 into two facilities in New Jersey.
A Justice Department spokeswoman told CNN the department would not comment beyond what is in the letter. Cuomo’s office declined to comment to CNN, and messages left with the other governors’ offices were not immediately returned Saturday.
On Friday, Scalise, who is the top Republican on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, called the Justice Department’s decision “outrageous.”
“Grieving families deserve answers and accountability. It’s unconscionable that (President Joe) Biden’s Department of Justice refuses to investigate the deadly actions that went against (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) medical guidance taken in these states,” Scalise said in a statement.
Political focus on Cuomo
Cuomo, who was widely lauded in Democratic circles for his leadership in the early days of the pandemic, has since been the focus of significant scrutiny over his administration’s guidance regarding Covid-19 and nursing homes.
In March 2020, his administration issued an advisory barring nursing homes from refusing to admit patients solely on the basis of a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 diagnosis in order to free up hospital beds.
Cuomo’s administration also underreported the number of Covid deaths among New York’s long-term care patients, according to the report, and then delayed sharing potentially damaging information with state lawmakers.
He claimed that his administration was following CDC guidelines at the time and that recovering Covid-19 patients were transferred out of hospitals as soon as possible so they wouldn’t contract a secondary infection. He also said nursing homes could only accept the patients if they were able to care for them.
He also attributed the virus’ spread in nursing homes to the caregivers rather than his administration’s directive.
CNN’s Christina Carrega, Elizabeth Joseph, Jamie Crawford, Brynn Gingras, Paul LeBlanc, Lauren del Valle and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.