The U.S. Justice Department said in a letter to some Republican lawmakers that it will not be opening a probe into COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan under the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19-related nursing home policies during the early months of the pandemic remain under multiple investigations. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
July 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department announced it will not open a civil rights investigation into the handling of COVID-19 deaths at state-run nursing homes in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The department sent a letter Friday to some Republican members of congress saying it will not be opening a probe under the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan, but two nursing homes in New Jersey remain under investigation.
The department had conducted a nearly year-long inquiry that started during the Trump administration into how COVID-19 infections spread through vulnerable populations in nursing homes and led to numerous deaths.
"Based on that review, we have decided not to open a CRIPA investigation of any public nursing facility within New York at this time," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joe Gaeta wrote in the letter to lawmakers.
Some Republicans accused the Justice Department under President Joe Biden of going easy on states with Democratic governors.
"This decision from President Biden's Department of Justice makes President Biden complicit in the criminal corruption scandal and coverup of deaths of thousands of vulnerable seniors," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, said in a statement.
The Justice Department statement applied specifically to state-run facilities, and does not preclude the possibility of further investigation into COVID-19 policies at all private and public homes in New York.
There are still multiple open investigations into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Federal prosecutors are believed to be probing a March 2020 state policy pressuring nursing homes to accept residents who tested positive for COVID-19. The policy was overturned two months later.
Prosecutors are also looking into the under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths in New York's nursing homes, where nearly 16,000 people died after contracting the disease, largely in the early months of the pandemic.
New York's Assembly Judiciary Committee is also conducting an investigation into the nursing home situation, and Attorney General Letitia James is leading a probe into accusations of sexual harassment against Cuomo as well as a $5 million book deal he signed to document the state's pandemic response.