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New York GOP Reps. Claudia Tenney, Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikParliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid packageCuomo asks New York AG to appoint independent attorney to investigate sexual harassment claimsPsaki: Cuomo should face ‘independent review’ over sexual harassment allegationsMORE, Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinMajority of New York voters say Cuomo should not be reelected: pollGOP lawmaker ‘actively exploring’ run for New York governorSunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in on Trump impeachment trial; Biden administration eyes timeline for mass vaccinationsMORE, Chris Jacobs and Nicole Malliotakis on Wednesday sent a letter to the Just Department arguing that New York States Policies placed those with intellectual or developmental disabilities at increased risk of exposure to COVID, and we fear COVID-related deaths in group homes have been underreported. 

The letter follows sharp criticism from lawmakers in response to New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden faces GOP’s immigration and filibuster offensiveCuomo allies circulated letter attacking accuser’s credibility: reportBiden: Cuomo should resign if harassment probe confirms allegationsMOREs (D) office admitting to underreporting coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes. 

Republicans and Democrats alike have called for investigations into Cuomos handling of the pandemic, while lawmakers have also called for Cuomo to resign following sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior allegations levied against the governor from multiple women in recent weeks. 

In Wednesdays letter, the GOP representatives specifically reference an April 2020 directive from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), which stated, No individual shall be denied re-admission or admission to a Certified Residential Facility based solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. 

The lawmakers argue, however, that the directives practical effect was to return COVID-positive patients who were no longer symptomatic to group homes.

Thus far, the OPWDD has publicly reported 552 COVID-related deaths across New Yorks more than 7,000 group homes, though the Republican lawmakers stated they have reason to doubt New York States numbers given its poor track record of transparently sharing COVID-19 data. 

Given that the group home directive was similar to the one issued in March for nursing homes in the state, the New York Republicans argued that the OPWDD must be scrutinized, to determine the policys true impact on coronavirus cases and fatalities. 

Tenney, who led the initiative from the GOP lawmakers, tweeted a copy of the letter Wednesday afternoon, writing, When it comes to protecting the lives of the most vulnerable, especially our seniors & those with disabilities, we must demand full transparency. 

I’m leading several of my colleagues in requesting the U.S. Attorney General investigate group home COVID-19 deaths in our state.

When it comes to protecting the lives of the most vulnerable, especially our seniors & those with disabilities, we must demand full transparency. pic.twitter.com/ZhAG9qfxhi

Congresswoman Tenney (@RepTenney) March 17, 2021

Stefanik, one of Cuomos most vocal critics, said in a press release announcing the letter, Given the Governors reckless and reprehensible nursing home directive, and the cover up that ensued, we have reason to fear that the number of COVID-related deaths in group homes is higher than what the state has reported. 

The DOJ must assess whether this harmful directive violates the civil rights of some of our most vulnerable and if the reported number of deaths in group homes is accurate, she added. 

@[email protected]@[email protected] and I just requested another Department of Justice investigation into Governor Cuomo – on his directive to return COVID patients to group homes for intellectually and developmentally disabled New Yorkers pic.twitter.com/oQ8FvW9wgK

Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) March 17, 2021

The request for a Justice Department probe comes after the New York State Assembly last week said it would open an impeachment investigation into Cuomo in relation to the sexual harassment allegations and mishandling of nursing home data. 

The Hill has reached out to Cuomos office for comment on Wednesdays letter.