President Joseph Biden (D), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), and Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) have courted controversy over their reported handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. President Biden : Public Domain ; Gov. Cuomo by Pat Arnow (CC BY-SA 2.0) ; Mayor de Blasio by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Biden’s DOJ closes civil rights probe into COVID-19 nursing home deaths as Government data, leadership come under greater scrutiny over Coronavirus pandemic mismanagement concerns

The U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing no answers or accountability for the Cuomo administration’s handling of COVID-19 deaths at state-run nursing homes. The public sees no consequence to deadly incompetence.

By Progress New York Staff

Updated 26 July 2021 11:15 After Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) resisted a call by Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Washington Heights), chairman of the New York City Council‘s health committee, to reïnstitute a mask mandate, the mayor was cited by a New York Post columnist, Charles Gasparino, for his role in mismanaging the Coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a reported loss of faith by Wall Street bankers.

The chief executive officers of some of the Nation’s largest banks feared continued mismanagement of the pandemic, Mr. Gasparino wrote. One of their complaints is the extreme changes in Government policy. Bankers were concerned that a return of an indoor mask mandate would make it impossible to fill large office towers with employees. But the next big flip-flop on masks may not be a decision left up solely to Mayor de Blasio. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Nation’s top infectious diseases physician, signaled that a National return to masking was under active consideration in the face of the dangerous Delta variant, which has quickly become the most dominant strain of the Coronavirus in the U.S.

Pandemic decision-making by Government leaders have appeared undisciplined, according to critics, who have witnessed rushed changes to public health after it became too late to prevent illness or death. The drastic nature of changes to policy is being blamed by experts for a lack of popular confidence in the Government, according to a report published by the Washington Post. When the public view Government leaders not taking care of their needs during a pandemic, their views of the Government turn negative, thereby breeding mistrust.

As the public was forced to endure a lack of resolute clarity around the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions, or NPI’s, to minimise the Delta variant outbreak, the U.S. Department of Justice notified the U.S. Congress that it would not open a civil rights investigation into the COVID-19 deaths of New York State nursing home residents. The public are seeing that a deadly incompetence will result in no accountability.

“The mixed messaging we’ve been getting about the pandemic from our leaders in this country is having a negative impact on trust in [G]overnment and public policy,” said Barry Eichengreen, a co-author of a study cited in the Post report.

New York City is now experiencing the same spike in the ratio of Total Cases to Hospitalisations that was observed in the U.K.

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the ratio of Total Cases (confirmed and probable) to Hospitalisations was confined to a narrow band — except for very recently. Visualisation of the data shows that the ratio is way off. (Data was collected on 25 July 2021.)
The same upward spike in the ratio of Cases to Hospitalisations was observed in the U.K., where the spike has been correcting itself due to an increase in hospitalisations. (Data was collected on 25 July 2021.)
The population taking the Coronavirus test has changed after the de Blasio administration has discouraged the vaccinated from being tested. The Delta variant is capable of vaccine escape, and critics are alarmed that breakthrough cases are not being detected.
The U.K. has similarly experienced a drop in testing from earlier, loftier levels. The drop in tests may be allowing the Delta variant, which is highly transmissible, to spread by degrees that are being missed by health ministers.

Critics of Mayor de Blasio have alleged that the drop in testing in New York City may be responsible for a skew in the ratio of Total Cases to Hospitalisations. The U.K. observed a similar drop in testing, including a reduction in testing lab capability.

The lack of Federal oversight comes against a backdrop of reduced COVID-19 data reporting.

The refusal by justice ministers to hold Government officials accountable for mismanagement of the pandemic comes as the authorities reduce the flow of information about the pandemic, raising alarms amongst public health ministers, according to a report broadcast by NPR, the network of public radio stations.

The office of the Nation’s top law enforcement official in Manhattan, U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, has refused to intervene in reported shortcomings in the accuracy and completeness of the pandemic data published by the de Blasio administration, giving the public the impression that there will be no accountability for negligence that leads to illnesses ; serious disabilities, such as Long Covid ; and deaths.

If it takes the authority of the Government to issue mandates, like requiring that the citizenry use face coverings in indoor settings in order to safeguard the public health, then, similarly, it should take the authority of justice ministers to make a showing that there exists a compelling Federal interest to intervene in Government functions in order to require that Government officials, like Mayor de Blasio, publish compete and accurate data in a timely manner, upon which complex decisions affecting public health could be made to minimise dangers to the citizenry. After all, the collection of Government pandemic data is funded with Federal monies, which would allow Federal justice ministers to claim jurisdiction.

But that parallelism doesn’t exist.

With no accountability for a failure to follow a standard of care that is one’s duty, some neighborhoods in New York City now exceed the former 3 per cent. threshold of COVID-19 positivity testing that previously led to neighborhood-specific restrictions on human activity. Yet, there has been no reïnstitution of NPI mandates or confinement orders specific to these “hot spots.” The standard of care has declined.

Unashamed, the de Blasio administration refuses to explain, or account for, discrepancies in reported COVID-19 data.

With no consequence for failure or negligence, the de Blasio administration, with forethought, has released pandemic data that has been the subject of criticism for appearing to be incomplete or inaccurate. The weekly Coronavirus sequencing studies have required multiple restatements, notably after Progress New York used a data model to show that the sample sizes of the weekly variant sequencing studies were too small. A report published by the New York Times later described the sample sizes as too small, too. But other questions raised about the data have gone unanswered.

The restatements telegraphed to the public that the de Blasio administration has been incapable of publishing complete and accurate pandemic data. Because critical public health policy changes are being made based on pandemic data published by the Government, the appearance of incomplete or inaccurate pandemic data would be material to the making of public health policy that will be based on unreliable information.

For this report, the press office supporting the Mayor’s Office did not answer an interview request.

As a result of at least some of these doubts, many amongst the weary public have been turning to conspiracy theories to understand the pandemic. The lack of coördination between various Government jurisdictions to properly classify COVID-19 deaths during a time when testing did not exist or was not available led to misinformation about causes of death. In the face of mistrust, the Biden administration has refused to release the number of breakthrough infections amongst the vaccinated White House staff, adding to unease after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided not to study mild breakthrough cases.

To confront misinformation and mistrust, informal networks of writers, Government transparency activists, and researchers have come together to educate the public. One such writer, Sharon Astyk, has commented about the lack of adequate information about sequencing studies. “We are still sequencing only a tiny percentage of cases, and are very likely to miss major mutations until they are widespread,” Ms. Astyk wrote on a recent Facebook post. Her commentary is being circulated as a form of underground journalism.

Mayor de Blasio has attracted a lot of online scrutiny and criticism, particularly on social media. One such critic on Twitter is Cynthia Walker, who is known by the @Incindery1 handle. Ms. Walker has been following COVID-19 data, because she has a daughter in a public elementary school. As a result, she’s been raising questions about the daily indicators shared by Mayor de Blasio, which can vary from official data published by the City health ministry. The daily indicators have purported to show that hospitalisations make up a large percentage of new cases. Ms. Walker’s questions allowed Progress New York to compare New York data with U.K. data to show that recent data, indeed, have appeared as outliers compared to the observed history of data trends during the pandemic. Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic in New York, the ratio of confirmed and probable cases to hospitalisations was confined to a narrow band — except for very recently. A similar spike in the ratio was also observed in the U.K. in the face of the Delta variant outbreak. Whereas some point to the vaccinations preventing more hospitalisations, there is more to the explanation. In both New York and in the U.K., COVID-19 testing has decreased as a result of deliberate acts by the Government. Ms. Walker has questioned whether the drop in testing means that New York City health ministers may be missing positive cases of COVID-19.

Instead of improving the quality and explanation of pandemic data, addressing the racial disparities in healthcare outcomes revealed by the pandemic, or investigating non-vaccine treatments, the Government has chosen to blame each of the Facebook social media platform for being a medium of misinformation and unvaccinated individuals for hesitating to trust the Government.

As of 8 June, when Mayor de Blasio began to reöpen the New York City economy, there were approx. 4 million New Yorkers, possibly more, who were unvaccinated, according to City data. Uptake on vaccines and vaccine hesitancy weren’t amongst the political considerations, according to a report published by POLITICO. Yet, Mayor de Blasio moved forward with the economic reöpening, even though the world was already bearing witness to dangerous Delta variant outbreaks in India and the U.K. The Government made a deliberate decision to increase human activity in the face of a highly-transmissible strain of the Coronavirus. Later, the Government suspended the required use of NPI’s. Now, they need scapegoats for the fallout, and leaders, like Mayor de Blasio, are turning to vaccine passports to shift more burdens onto the unvaccinated. In New York City, nearly 70 per cent. of Blacks and nearly 60 per cent. of Latinxs remain unvaccinated, according to City data. These were communities, which were most at-risk from comorbidities from COVID-19. Now, they bear the blame.