NY state DOH retains outside counsel for Cuomo COVID probes

The state Department of Health is lawyering up amid multiple investigations into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged mishandling of New York’s nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DOH retained lawyers from the firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson with a $1.5 million contract to “[respond] to multiple inquiries related to investigations of the State’s COVID-19 response by law enforcement and other governmental or regulatory bodies,” according to New York Law Journal, which obtained a copy of the Feb. 1 legal agreement through a Freedom of Information request.

According to the contract, DOH has retained lawyers Stephen Juris and Joshua Roth to represent it in inquiries from state Attorney General Letitia James, the US Attorney in the Eastern District and the Manhattan district attorney.

Dr. Howard Zucker, NYS Department of Health Commissioner,  NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio
Lawyers Stephen Juris and Joshua Roth will represent the state Department of Health.
Stephen Yang

An investigation into the Cuomo administration’s COVID-19 policies by Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s team had not been previously reported. Vance’s office did not return a request for comment.

The feds’ probe is examining the Cuomo administration’s actions relating to the nursing homes and other long-term care facilities after thousands of their residents died of COVID-19, according to reports.

Cuomo’s administration has faced fierce criticism for a since-rescinded March 25, 2020, directive by his Health Department that ordered the nursing homes to admit infected patients being discharged from hospitals, despite the facilities’ vulnerable populations.

Dr. Howard A. Zucker Commissioner of Health for New York State comments on the spread of the coronavirus during a news conference
Dr. Howard A. Zucker, Commissioner of Health for New York State, comments on the spread of the coronavirus during a news conference at the state Capitol, June 16, 2020.
Hans Pennink

A 242-page New York State Bar Association report obtained by The Post in June concluded that the “unreasonable” mandate “did lead to some number of additional deaths” for the six weeks it was in effect.

Cuomo on July 23 claimed victory after the Biden administration’s Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division opted not to investigate the nursing-home fiasco — but the joint probe by the FBI and Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office is still ongoing.

A DOH spokeswoman told The Post on Sunday that her agency “does not comment on active investigative matters.”

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