With trouble brewing in his home state over COVID-19 nursing homes cases, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ducking out to Washington D.C. to discuss pandemic relief with the president.

Cuomo is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office to talk about the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus that’s meant to improve the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we're in a position to think big and move big, and to move in a direction that can not only get the economy back on its feet, but we have to get people well before we get people on their feet,” Biden told reporters earlier this week. “And we've focused a lot of the attention on making sure that we deal with the coronavirus, get it under control.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, is scheduled to join a bipartisan group of mayors and governors in the Oval Office on Friday to discuss Biden’s stimulus plan, Fox News reported. The visit comes as a handful of Republican leaders are calling for an investigation into Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus in New York state nursing homes.

On Thursday, The Associated Press reported that more than 9,000 coronavirus patients were released from hospitals into state nursing homes early last year. A directive issued by Cuomo’s office in March prohibited nursing homes from refusing people with COVID-19, a directive meant to free up space in hospitals that were overwhelmed in the early stages of the pandemic.

Advocates for nursing home residents claimed that the directive facilitated the spread of the coronavirus and the AP found the New York state health department underreported the number of people released early into long-term care facilities, a situation his critics describe as a coverup.

State Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican, called on the state attorney general and the Department of Justice to prosecute Cuomo.

“I have said from the beginning that this is more than a nursing home scandal, this is a massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York state government implicating the governor, the secretary to the governor, the New York state health commissioner and the governor’s staff,” she said in a statement.

That sentiment was echoed by her partisan counterpart Rep. Lee Zeldin, who said the scandal is “criminal.”

State Attorney General Letitia James expressed her concerns about the issue last month, accusing the Cuomo administration of underreporting deaths in nursing homes.

“Many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in the Department of Health’s published total nursing home death data,” a 76-page report from her office stated.

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pictured. AFP / Johannes EISELE