A leading expert on pandemics on Thursday disputed a claim from an aide to Andrew Cuomo that he was a “chief advisor” to the New York governor on coronavirus.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist who has advised the Biden White House, said in an interview on PBS’s “Firing Line” that he has only spoken once to Cuomo and never met with the state’s coronavirus task force.
“I’ve had one five minute conversation my entire life with Governor Cuomo just a few weeks ago just to congratulate me on a TV appearance,” Osterholm told host Margaret Hoover.
Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Cuomo, told New York state lawmakers in a private call on Feb. 10 that Cuomo speaks on a “regular basis” with Osterholm, who is considered one of the top experts on pandemics and coronaviruses.
In a call with lawmakers, a top Cuomo aide called Dr. Michael Osterholm a “chief advisor” who spoke to the governor on a “regular basis.”
Osterholm counters this claim on @FiringLineShow:
“I’ve had one five-minute conversation my entire life with Governor Cuomo,” he says. pic.twitter.com/ljd1qbR8G5
— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) February 18, 2021
“That’s absolutely not true,” Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota’s infectious disease center, said of DeRosa’s claim.
Cuomo and DeRosa have come under heightened scrutiny over the past week amid allegations that Cuomo’s administration covered up the extent of coronavirus cases in nursing homes.
On Wednesday, news outlets reported that the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn are investigating the administration over the nursing home fatalities.
DeRosa told state lawmakers last week that the governor’s office withheld nursing home data out of concerns over how the Trump Justice Department might use the information.
Cuomo also allegedly threatened a Democratic state assemblyman who had criticized the governor over his handling of the nursing home scandal.
“He goes off about how I hadn’t seen his wrath and anger, that he would destroy me and he would go out tomorrow and start telling how bad of a person I am and I would be finished,” Ron Kim, who represents a district in Brooklyn, recounted to the New York Times.