In another blow to Cuomo's legacy, Hochul said, "The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what’s happening. And that’s whether it’s good or bad, they need to know the truth. And that’s how we restore confidence."
According to death certificate data given to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 55,400 people have died of the coronavirus in New York, Hochul's office said in the first daily update on the epidemic on Tuesday evening.
The number marks a sharp increase from the 43,400 earlier reported by Cuomo to the public as of Monday -- his last day in the office. The 63-year-old Democrat had to resign in the face of an impeachment drive after being accused of sexually harassing at least 11 women, allegations he continuously disputed.
However, the higher number is not a surprise as Cuomo had been facing backlash for known gaps in his COVID-19 data tallying processes.
But Hochul, who was lieutenant governor before being propelled to the state's highest office, said it is vital to be fully transparent about the numbers.
“There’s a lot of things that weren’t happening, and I’m going to make them happen," she said Wednesday on MSNBC. "Transparency will be the hallmark of my administration.”
Earlier, the count used by Cuomo in his news media briefings and on the state’s COVID-19 fatality tracker included only laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported through a state system that collects data from hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities.
That meant the tally excluded people who died at home, in hospice, in prisons or at state-run homes for people with disabilities. It also excluded people who probably died of COVID-19 but never got a positive test to confirm the diagnosis.
“There are presumed and confirmed deaths. People should know both," Hochul said.
With inputs from the Associated Press