Multiple companies have submitted offers to conduct a wide-ranging review of New York state government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic since the onset of the public health crisis in March 2020, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a Capital Tonight interview this week.
The firms that could be used to conduct the review and provide a deeper understanding of the decisions of state officials and their consequences for schools, businesses and long-term care facilities will be made in a few weeks, Hochul said.
"I think it's going to be settled in a matter of weeks now," Hochul said in the Wednesday interview. "You can't just pick a company or a consultant. We had to identify the factors that we're looking for, what we want them to study."
Hochul in July announced her administration would begin a request for proposals process to find an outside consultant to help conduct the assessment. State lawmakers have called for a panel to solely assess decisions that affected nursing homes in the early weeks of the pandemic.
Those calls have included the commission to have subpoena power, and assess decisions like requiring nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients amid concerns over a hospital bed shortage.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration came under scrutiny for the order as well as an undercount of the number of nursing home residents who died in the initial months of the pandemic.
Hochul in the interview pointed to the multiple investigations into nursing homes that have already been conducted, including an audit by state Attorney General Letitia James' office that concluded New York undercounted deaths at the facilities.
"That will be part of it, but I need to put together a playbook for future governors and look at the impact of children stay out of schools and shutting businesses down," she said. "So, it's going to take a little time. Many are related to nursing homes, they will be analyzed."
The pandemic has loomed large over Hochul's first year in office, and the state is now handling outbreaks of monkeypox and polio in pockets of New York. Officials have come under criticism for the lack of vaccines for monkeypox in the last several weeks.
"Here's where we have a vulnerability: We rely on the federal government to get us vaccines," she said of the monkeypox outbreak.
New York schools will be receiving COVID test kits as part of an effort to return to classrooms this September under relaxed COVID guidelines.