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Janice Dean was told New York Senate Majority 'uncomfortable' with her testifying on nursing home deaths

Written by on August 11, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo “fails to take any responsibility” for coronavirus-related nursing home deaths in the state, Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean, who recently lost her elderly in-laws to COVID-19, told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday.

Dean made the comment days after she found out that she was taken off the list to testify at a hearing geared toward understanding why and how the pandemic took root in New York nursing homes.

“I filled out all the paperwork, I wrote the letter to all the lawmakers that needed to be written to and I got a confirmation that the chair was going to allow me to speak,” she said on Tuesday, adding that she was expecting to testify at the second hearing, which took place on Monday.

“I was supposed to hear back on the weekend. I never heard word and I heard during the hearings yesterday that they couldn’t accommodate me,” she continued.

She said New York State Sen. Thomas O’Mara, a Republican, had admitted to her “that they [the Senate Majority] were uncomfortable having [her] as a witness,” so they took her off the list.

Speaking on the “Brian Kilmeade Show” the day before, Dean said she believed Cuomo or his administration were behind the decision.

Dean said she had correspondence with New York Assemblyman Kevin Byrne and that he was the one who was emailing her “back-and-forth and was saying that he was talking to the chair [Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried] and that the chair said absolutely she’ll get her day on August the 10.”

Kilmeade asked Dean “why” she was taken off the list.

“I can only guess at this point,” she responded. “I think it went higher than the chair. I think that it was Andrew Cuomo or his administration that decided that they didn’t want my voice to be heard and that’s really unfortunate.”

In a statement sent to Fox News, Rich Azzopardi, senior advisor to Gov. Cuomo, said that the legislature is “a separate branch of government and they run their hearings how they see fit.”

Fox News spoke with Byrne, who provided some context as to what happened.

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Byrne said that on Friday he got an email from Gottfried in which the Assembly Health Committee chair wrote, “I have been told that ‘The Senate is not comfortable including her on the witness list, so we will not be including her to testify.’”

Fox News reached out to Gottfried’s office for comment and was told Gottfried had no comment on the matter other than to recommend Fox News “contact the Senate Majority for comment.”

When Fox News asked the Senate Majority why they were “not comfortable” including Dean on the witness list, Senate Majority Communications Director Mike Murphy said, “That assessment is not accurate.”

In a statement sent to Fox News Murphy said, “There are so many families that suffered because of this awful pandemic.,

“We had so many brave families that wanted to share their heartbreaking stories including the ones that testified today and at last week’s hearing,” he continued. “As was made clear if you couldn’t testify in person we will accept all written testimony to be part of the written record.”

On Tuesday, host Steve Doocy told Dean, “They may have taken you off the list, but they did not take you off television and nobody has been more vocal or brutally honest about what has happened in the New York nursing homes than you Janice.”

He then asked her what she would say in her testimony.

In response, Dean said she wanted to tell the story of her in-laws and how they were “New York tough.”

The couple was “born and bred in New York” and raised three children.

“They got sick and they couldn’t take care of themselves or each other and they were in separate assisted living facilities, hoping that we were going to get them together,” she continued. “Then COVID-19 came in play and took the lives of both of them. I want answers. I want accountability.”

She pointed out that her mother-in-law was transported to a hospital and died there.

“She got coronavirus in her assisted living facility, but her number does not count,” she continued.

Dean said “the governor is hiding,” noting that on Monday Cuomo he “wouldn’t do an investigation” into the nursing home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic in New York.

“There is something wrong with that because if he wasn’t guilty of something, why wouldn’t he welcome any and all investigations into his government?” Dean asked.

Cuomo has received scathing criticism for his early order requiring that nursing homes accept COVID-19 patients who had been released from hospitals, effectively placing them in the same facilities housing the demographic most vulnerable to the virus.

Cuomo has insisted that New York’s original nursing home policy was in line with a March 13 directive from the Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that went out to all states on how to control nursing homes.

New York, among other states, said at the time that nursing homes cannot refuse to take patients from hospitals solely because they have the coronavirus. After mounting criticism that the policy put the most vulnerable people at risk and contributed to a high number of fatalities, New York reversed course on May 10. Now hospitals can only send patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 to nursing homes.

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Cuomo and his administration have been tight-lipped about the extent of deaths and infections at the state’s more than 600 nursing homes since March and Cuomo declined to admit any missteps.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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