Andrew Cuomo’s behavior analysed by body language expert amid Covid criticism and assault claims


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has faced fierce criticism in recent weeks over his handling of the data concerning nursing home deaths from COVID-19, which he has tried to battle off through his once-hyped daily press conferences.

According to a body language expert, the media briefings could be giving away more than the governor intends – his arms pressed to his sides and closed fists may indicate Cuomo’s deception, his repression of true feelings, and his eagerness to fight off the negative press.

Body language expert Patti Wood spoke to DailyMail.com about the embattled lawmaker’s February 19 press conference in which he addressed the latest wave of nursing home scandal.

It came a week after it was revealed that one of his top aides had told Democratic state lawmakers that Cuomo’s administration had withheld data on the deaths fearing that Trump would use it as a ‘political football’.

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According to body language expert Patti Wood, Gov. Andrew Cuomo raises his hand into a fist while taking about nursing homes to gesture he wants to fight off the negative press

Among the body language giveaways in Cuomo’s February 19 press conference were:

  • Holding arms by his sides may indicate he is repressing emotions or feels he may hide information
  • Range drops which can indicate deception
  • Looks down to indicate he wants to push down the topic
  • Uses a fist to indicate he wants to fight off the negative messaging
  • Gestures to his heart when speaking about concerned families

Wood, author of SNAP Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma, described Cuomo as a person with a ‘broad emotional range’ which is often found in leaders and speakers who are well-trusted, highly regarded and considered charismatic.

‘It’s one of the reasons people have found those briefings so captivating,’ she explains. ‘It’s because we hear all these different emotions and believe he is telling the truth, you trust him.’

The governor had displayed this range through all of his press briefings, including when he announced the very first case of coronavirus in New York City.  

In the March 2, 2020 press conference, Wood says he repeatedly raised his eyebrows to emphasize information that would separate the first woman to be infected with COVID from the general public and make it seem less scary. 

It included moments when he described her as a healthcare worker who had been in Iran and said she hadn’t been on the subway.  

In earlier press conferences, Cuomo had raised eyebrows to emphasis information. He is seen above in the first COVID presser on March 2, 2020

In his February 19 conference, Wood noted that in the moments before Cuomo began to speak on nursing homes, he cracked a joke and laughed as he asked how to pronounce a new drug.

‘He’s funny and laughing right before he got to that topic which helps the audience believe what that person said next,’ Wood explains.

As he veered into nursing homes, Wood said that Cuomo looks down and puts his left hand out flat in a gesture that indicates he wants to push this topic down.

The governor then brings his hand into a loose fist at fighting level which can indicate that he wants to fight off the negative messaging of the scandal.

Wood said that as he began on the topic, Cuomo’s generally broad range also dropped, which at times can suggest deception.

As Cuomo began speaking about nursing homes during his February 19 press briefing, body laguage expert Patti Wood said that the governor looks down and puts his left hand out flat in a gesture that indicates he wants to push this topic down, as pictured

Cuomo also later held his hands to the side and hide his hands which could indicate deception

Just moments before he addressed the nursing home, Wood said that Cuomo had been cracking jokes with staff, as pictured, which could put the audience at ease

Just moments before he addressed the nursing home, Wood said that Cuomo had been cracking jokes with staff, as pictured, which could put the audience at ease

Cuomo continues to defend nursing home policy despite rising pressure

Cuomo is under increasing pressure over his handling of COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes. 

He signed a March order that allowed nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients back to their facilities. 

Earlier this month, Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s secretary, unleashed a political firestorm when she admitted to state Democrats that the administration had deliberately hidden data on the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. 

At least 15,000 people living in long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19, nearly double the number Cuomo had initially disclosed. 

This figure was only revealed in January after a scathing report from New York Attorney General Letitia James. 

The report chastised the Cuomo administration for minimizing the death toll at nursing homes by excluding certain fatalities from the count.

Shortly afterward, the Department of Health also revealed that an additional 3,829 residents died after being transferred to hospitals, which is about 40 percent more deaths than had previously been counted. 

Cuomo says his office was always honest about the figures but that it came down to differences in categorization. 

Put in contrast with the moment just minutes before when the governor was cracking a joke and Wood said it highlights that his tone and gestures weren’t simply those he was using on a certain day, ‘it was the topic’.

She says that while he becomes loud at times, overall, his range dropped in variation even though he had addressed other somber topics at earlier points.

‘He wants to deaden some part of emotion, so it could say he’s keeping information or emotions,’ she claims.

Cuomo repeatedly makes a fist throughout the section of the briefing in which he talks on nursing homes, especially as he speaks about the ‘toxic political environment’, which Wood said shows his anger at the attacks against him.

He makes a finger gun as he speaks about conspiracy theories filling a void in information and ‘people playing politics’ to show how he feels about the people he is accusing.

Yet Wood notes he controls his anger and doesn’t hold the finger gun for long.

He again shows anger toward people he believes are lying as he makes a fist gesture while saying, ‘I understand people lie’ and again as he states, ‘I should have been more aggressive at calling it out’.

Wood said that the governor does show sincere compassion to the families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

As he states he is addressing the concerns ‘primarily for the families’, she says that he shows his true concern for them by gesturing toward his heart.

‘He feels emotionally about what he is saying,’ Wood explains.

‘Typically, if someone were lying the gestures would not occur or they would be out of synch because the person accesses the words for the lie in the neocortex then goes over to the limbic brain to try to figure out how a person who was truthfully saying them would show them nonverbally.’

However, she adds that he skillfully comes back to the ‘poor families’ time and time again and ties it to ‘misinformation’ and incorrect statements from the press rather than any actions his office took. 

Wood said that Cuomo appears sincere in his concern for families as points to his heart

Throughout the briefing, Wood said he placed emphasis on ‘we’, meaning his team, rather than him personally taking any responsibility.

He also talks at length about the nursing homes, but for the most part does not address the accusation that his decision to send COVID-19 positive people back to  nursing homes from hospitals led to more deaths.

Body language expert Patti Wood

Body language expert Patti Wood

Wood says he talks at length about information around the topic before getting to the root of it, which is a tactic used by lawyers who ‘talk and talk so your brain gets mushed as the audience.’

‘If the person is very dramatic about it and talking around it, not to it, you tend to veer to what they are saying,’ she notes. ‘He did that very successfully before he went into the actual topic.’

Wood highlights how Cuomo transforms the conversation into one of him battling against misinformation and not criticism and accusations.

She adds that by not directly addressing the accusations could also be a sign that he is hiding information.

Another sign that he could be deceptive comes as he holds his hands close to his sides and hides his hands and he says, ‘I won’t make that mistake again’ when referring to the ‘void’ that led to ‘misinformation’.

‘He is suppressing some other truer feeling here,’ Woods says.

‘He may be suppressing more anger or suppressing a feeling that he may hide information or will act the same way again. I don’t know, I just know he is suppressing some true feeling and thoughts here.’

At the end of the segment, Cuomo hands over to Dr. Howard Zucker which Wood suggests could be another escape from the governor having to face giving a direct apology.

‘He introduced the doctor that justified the action he took; he had the credentials up on the screen and he could say this is what we had to do.’

Cuomo is under increasing pressure over his handling of COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes. 

He signed a March order that allowed nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients back to their facilities. 

At least 15,000 people living in long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19, nearly double the number Cuomo had initially disclosed. 

Cuomo says his office was always honest about the figures but that it came down to differences in categorization. 

Gov. Cuomo’s office was contacted for comment on the body-language findings, but they referred to it as a ‘shark jumping moment’.



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