EXCLUSIVE: Family members of New York seniors who died after contracting the coronavirus while in nursing homes told Fox News they hope the sexual harassment claims against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo don’t overshadow what they see as an equally important issue.
Grace Colucci, whose father John Daly, 89, died last spring after contracting coronavirus in a New York nursing home, blasted state Democrats in an interview with Fox News.
“It seems like the focus and the outcry of the Democrats in New York State have brought on so much reaction of outrage on the sexual harassment, and they have totally ignored what he has done involving the nursing home scandal, his cover-up, his disregard for their attempts to have hearings,” said Colucci, who said she herself has experienced workplace sexual harassment.
Colucci said she wants to see Cuomo face consequences for potential obstruction of justice.
“As far as a resignation, I feel that that would be an escape for the governor,” she told Fox News. “I think that he would go off and spend the rest of his life maybe getting a job on CNN. He can do a spot with his brother.”
Theresa Sari, whose mother Maria Sachse, 60, died after contracting coronavirus while living at a nursing home in Island Park, N.Y., told Fox News in an interview that watching Cuomo take heat for both the sexual harassment claims and nursing home directive is “a bit overwhelming.”
“That’s a bit overwhelming because I don’t think that was expected to come out around the same time,” Sari said. “People are more outraged regarding the sexual claims rather than the thousands of people who passed away in nursing homes. It’s unfortunate.”
“I’m sure he’s going to get forced out,” Sari continued. “I think he’s too prideful to just resign. … He’s too narcissistic.”
Cuomo apologized for his past behavior following allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by three women during a news conference Wednesday, telling reporters that he is “embarrassed” by his actions and will cooperate with the New York attorney general’s investigation of his conduct.
Meanwhile, many New Yorkers, including Democratic elected officials, are calling on Cuomo to resign.
Cuomo has also taken heat from both Democrats and Republicans over his handling of the coronavirus crisis in nursing homes.
New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Democrat, has said Cuomo should face impeachment for his administration’s alleged coverup of coronavirus nursing home deaths.
“We’ve been clamoring for 11 months for justice and truth and accountability for our seniors. That will not change whether he leaves office or not,” said Vivian Zayas, whose mother Ana Martinez, 78, died while recovering from surgery in a New York nursing home in March 2020.
“We still want the truth about why [Cuomo] put COVID-positive patients into the nursing homes and, ultimately, the cover-up that came afterward,” Zayas told Fox News in an interview.
Zayas and her sister Alexa Rivera co-founded the group Voices for Seniors as part of their mission “to change the system so our seniors are treated with respect and accountability,” Zayas said.
“We feel overshadowed to a degree,” she said. “Yes, sexual harassment claims are very important, but when we compare that to 15,000 lives lost, not able to be returned to their families, that should not be overlooked.”
In January, Cuomo blasted his critics for turning a “tragedy” into a “political football” during a media briefing.
Cuomo said, “Look, whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home, it’s — the people died.”
“People died. ‘I was in a hospital, I got transferred to a nursing home, and my father died.’ ‘My father was in a nursing home, got transferred to a hospital, my father died.’ People died,” he said. “By the way, the same people are dying today. Ninety-six percent of the people who died are older people with comorbidities which happens to be the population who lives in nursing homes.”
Despite Cuomo’s efforts to chalk up the drama-filled weeks to partisan politics, as questions swirling around his handling of the pandemic continue, his administration was forced to admit recently that nursing home deaths had topped 15,000 – nearly 10,000 more than was originally reported by the state at the end of January.
Fox News’ Teny Sahakian and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.