New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that his state has always “fully reported” COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes following a report that his administration withheld the true figures out of fear from federal prosecutors.
While it’s true that New York did report the number of individuals who died while physically present at a nursing home between May 2020 and January 2021, the figures did not include residents who died after being transported to a hospital. Other states with large outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes did not make such omissions from their reporting.
“To be clear, all the deaths in the nursing homes and in the hospitals were always fully, publicly and accurately reported,” Cuomo said. “The numbers were the numbers, always.”
At the onset of the pandemic, the NYSDOH was reporting all nursing home COVID-19 deaths regardless of whether the resident died at their facility or at a hospital.
New York began omitting nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 at a hospital from their reporting in early May, around the same time the Cuomo administration revoked its March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept patients who were infected with the virus.
The Associated Press reported that over 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients were released into New York nursing homes because of the Cuomo administration’s directive, which prohibited nursing homes from obtaining negative tests from patients before their admission.
Cuomo used his administration’s altered reporting in press conferences to claim New York was handling the COVID-19 outbreak in nursing homes better than other states, which were reporting all nursing home residents who died from the virus regardless of where they died.
Cuomo’s top aide, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, told state lawmakers during a call last week that they withheld the true number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 out of fear from federal prosecutors, according to the New York Post.
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The Cuomo administration revealed in January it had undercounted nursing home COVID-19 deaths by nearly 50%. At least 12,743 nursing home residents had died from the virus as of Jan. 19, which included some 4,238 deaths that weren’t included in the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) official tally because they died at hospitals.
New York’s nursing home fatalities from COVID-19 stand at 13,382 as of Feb. 4, the latest date data is available.