A new investigation by the Associated Press released New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been undercounting the deaths of nursing home residents from the coronavirus in New York, caused by his executive order putting COVID patients in nursing homes. And the death toll could be much higher than the 11,000 dead AP counted.
According to AP, the state is purposefully not counting any nursing home deaths among residents who were hospitalized, and it may not be accurately counting the deaths of people who died in their own nursing homes.
New York’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, already among the highest in the nation, could actually be a significant undercount. Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there.
That statistic could add thousands to the state’s official care home death toll of just over 6,600. But so far the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to divulge the number, leading to speculation the state is manipulating the figures to make it appear it is doing a better than other states and to make a tragic situation less dire.
“That’s a problem, bro,” state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat, told New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker during a legislative hearing on nursing homes earlier this month. “It seems, sir, that in this case you are choosing to define it differently so that you can look better.”
Since May, federal regulators have required nursing homes to submit data on coronavirus deaths each week, whether or not residents died in the facility or at a hospital. Because the requirement came after the height of New York’s outbreak, the available data is relatively small. According to the federal data, roughly a fifth of the state’s homes reported resident deaths from early June to mid July — a tally of 323 dead, 65 percent higher than the state’s count of 195 during that time period.
Even if half that undercount had held true from the start of the pandemic, that would translate into thousands more nursing home resident deaths than the state has acknowledged.
There’s another measure that also shows how Cuomo has undercounted nursing home residents who he killed.
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Another group of numbers also suggests an undercount. State health department surveys show 21,000 nursing home beds are lying empty this year, 13,000 more than expected — an increase of almost double the official state nursing home death tally. While some of that increase can be attributed to fewer new admissions and people pulling their loved ones out, it suggests that many others who aren’t there anymore died.
David Harsanyi, writing at National Review about the AP investigation, indicates that more nursing home residents died in New York under Cuomo’s watch than the total people dying from the coronavirus in any state.
Unlike other states with major outbreaks, New York’s fatality numbers only include residents who died on nursing-home property, and not the thousands of patients who caught the disease in homes but were transported and ultimately died elsewhere. While the state estimates that around 6,600 perished in nursing homes, the Associated Press puts the real number closer to 11,000 — more than the total fatality count in any state other than New Jersey.
It might even be worse. The Associated Press — which should be praised as one of the only major outlets pursuing this story — has been denied access to New York’s nursing-home death data despite filing public records request three months ago. You might remember all the conspiracy theories that liberal pundits were spreading about Florida’s “manipulated” numbers in May. Here we are in August, and Cuomo, the governor who couldn’t flatten the curve, is now also stonewalling and hiding his state’s death toll.
But Cuomo thinks any criticism of him and his order killing thousands of people is “just political.”