A timeline of how then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo hid the true COVID-19 death toll of nursing home residents while negotiating the rights to his book last year about the COVID-19 crisis that paid him a $5.1 million advance.
March 1, 2020:
Coronavirus hits New York. A 39-year-old health care worker from Manhattan, who recently returned from a trip to Iran, is identified as the first positive case in the Empire State.
March 19, 2020:
Penguin Random House reaches out to a literary agency representing Cuomo to see if he “was interested in writing a book.”
March 20, 2020:
Cuomo issues executive order stating New York will go on pause in two days.
March 25, 2020:
The state Department of Health issues the infamous directive barring nursing homes from denying COVID-19-positive residents entry to the facility.
April 17, 2020:
The DOH begins publishing nursing home fatalities on its website.
April 18, 2020:
The DOH orders nursing homes to report daily COVID-19 deaths, including “if the death occurred in [their] facility or the hospital setting.”
On or around May 6, 2020:
Statistics on nursing home fatalities published on DOH website are revised to only include confirmed and presumed cases in facilities. Fatalities of nursing home residents who died in hospitals are removed from metrics.
May 10, 2020:
Cuomo issues new directive rescinding the March 25 order.
July 1, 2020:
Cuomo’s literary agent tells a Penguin rep the governor has been working on the book and has 70,000 words completed.
July 6, 2020:
Cuomo and a “senior Executive Chamber official” meet with Penguin reps. At Cuomo’s behest, DOH publishes its doctored nursing home data report that shows 6,000 deaths instead of 10,000. “Throughout the drafting process, the former Governor reviewed and edited the draft DOH Report on multiple occasions, and made edits to strengthen the defense of the March 25 Directive,” an Assembly report states.
July 8, 2020:
A bidding war for Cuomo’s book begins among three publishing houses. Penguin’s bid starts at $750,000. After several rounds, bidding escalates into the $5 million range.
July 10, 2020:
Penguin wins the bidding war and agrees to pay the then-governor $5.1 million in advances.
July 16, 2020:
JCOPE gives final approval for the book.
July 24-Aug. 1, 2020:
All-day meetings are held with Cuomo, his staff and Penguin. Senior members of the Executive Chamber attend at least three days of manuscript editing sessions at the Executive Mansion.
Mid-July to mid-August 2020:
- A chapter on nursing homes is deemed “critically important” by a top Cuomo adviser.
- Senior Executive Chamber staff draft and edit portions of the manuscript and speak with the publisher’s team about revisions and drafts by email, phone and in person, including on weekdays and during work hours.
- A COVID-19 task force member assists in drafting and editing Chapter 6 of the book, which touches on the issue of nursing homes during the pandemic. The member is directed by a senior Cuomo aide that the governor wants them to “keep fl[e]shing” out the chapter.
Aug. 18, 2020:
The public is officially informed that Cuomo is writing a book.
Aug. 19, 2020:
Cuomo is asked during a radio appearance if he got “a lot of money” for writing the book. He replies: “Well, only if [I] sell a lot of copies.”
Oct. 13, 2020:
The book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is released to the public.