The controversy over New York's data about nursing home deaths has spiraled since January

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Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
| Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Plans for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's most recent book, about his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, have reportedly been put on hold amid an investigation into how the state handled nursing home deaths from the coronavirus.

The future of the Democratic leader's book is now unclear, a spokesperson for Crown Publishing Group at Penguin Random House told The New York Times on Tuesday.

Because of "the ongoing investigation into N.Y.S. reporting of COVID-related fatalities in nursing homes," there were "no plans" to reprint Cuomo's book or publish a paperback edition, the spokesperson told the Times. The book's promotion has also been stopped.

CNN and other outlets previously reported that federal prosecutors were looking into the state's handling of the death data.

(Spokespeople for the governor's office and his publisher did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.)

The controversy over New York's data about nursing home deaths has spiraled since January — when the state attorney general issued a report that the true toll may have been drastically undercounted.

Subsequent numbers from the state confirmed that criticism, which had long been levied against Cuomo: that because New York separated nursing home deaths into two different categories, the total fatalities seemed artificially lower than they really were.

Cuomo's aides have also acknowledged resisting making the complete data public, though they blamed fears that it would be politically weaponized and said it had not yet been verified.

The governor said that criticism of his handling of nursing homes was driven by conservative anger and that there were no unreported deaths — merely miscategorized ones.

The lack of transparency, however, allowed the state to falsely argue it had done better than many other parts of the country when its care facilities were ravaged as in many other states.

Cuomo has also faced much scrutiny for a since-reversed directive from health officials last year that nursing homes had to receive coronavirus patients if they felt they were able to.

The move was in keeping with federal guidance at time and made to preserve hospital capacity, but it fueled arguments that the state was careless with nursing home patients. (Officials insist most COVID-19 spread in nursing homes came from staff.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
| Credit: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Amid this, Cuomo's COVID memoir, American Crisis, was received skeptically by many as it was published in October while the pandemic was — and still is — very much underway.

More than 47,000 people have died in New York from the virus, the second highest toll in the nation, according to a Times tracker.

In the fall, though the book capitalized on his pandemic-era profile, Cuomo said it was an opportunity for reflection and not a victory lap: "Let's adjust for the re-entry on to the field, because this is not going away," he told NPR.

Separately, the governor has become the subject of further scrutiny in recent weeks over his workplace behavior.

Multiple women have accused Cuomo of misconduct, including alleging that he made sexual comments or unwanted advances.

One woman said the governor made an unwanted kiss, which he denied. Another woman working for the governor's office said that, last June, Cuomo had asked inappropriate questions about her sex life, which left her "wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job," she told the Times.

"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said, earlier this month.

"It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it," he added. "I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it and that's not easy to say. But that's the truth."