NEW YORK — Vivian Rivera Zayas says there was nothing political about her mother’s death, responding directly to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s suggestion that a growing scandal surrounding data on the state’s COVID-19 nursing home fatalities is politically motivated.
“We voted for him!” she said. “And he claims that this is a Republican vendetta. We are Democrats!”
Zayas’ mother, Ana Celia Martinez, fell victim to COVID-19 during her stay at a Suffolk County nursing home facility in April.
Her family is now one of many calling for a federal investigation into Gov. Cuomo’s alleged cover-up of the state’s nursing home death toll.
“I grew up at a time where seniors were respected to the utmost,” Martinez’s daughter Alexa Rivera said. “They were not only protected but they were taken care of and treated with dignity. That doesn’t seem to be the case.”
Their group Voices for Seniors, comprised of local families who lost relatives in nursing homes during the pandemic, gathered in lower Manhattan Wednesday with a pledge to fight until they get answers.
Those families want their voices heard after recent developments around the state’s mishandling of information about COVIDdeaths linked to nursing homes. That number that was initially reported at 9,154 and has since ballooned to 15,049. That’s in wake of a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
A statement from a top Cuomo aide about withholding the numbers forced the governor to finally acknowledge missteps this week.
Despite that acknowledgment, the governor fell short of an apology, saying in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that the void created misinformation which created pain for families that lost love ones.