New York Republican lawmakers asked President Donald Trump for help Tuesday in demanding transparency from Gov. Andrew Cuomo about his COVID-19 nursing home policy.
The Democrat governor’s nursing home order is widely considered to be disastrous because it placed COVID-19 patients with the elderly and people with disabilities, those most vulnerable and likely to die from the virus. Cuomo later reversed the order, but he continually has refused to take responsibility for it.
New Yorkers still do not know how many nursing home deaths have been linked to Cuomo’s policy, despite repeated demands for transparency and an investigation.
The New York Post reports Republicans in the New York Assembly wrote to Trump asking his administration to change Centers for Disease Control reporting requirements for COVID-19 so that New York will have to release its numbers.
“People who lost loved ones in nursing homes deserve answers,” state Assemblyman Kevin Byrne said in a statement.
Officially, New York reported 6,722 deaths at nursing homes due to the coronavirus earlier this fall. However, the state tally only includes people who died at a facility; nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals and died there are not included in the total.
“We write to you as a last-ditch effort for assistance to obtain the long sought after COVID-19 data New York families and good government groups have been seeking for months,” the lawmakers wrote. “New York counts its COVID-19 deaths unlike any other state.”
Criticism of Cuomo has come from both sides of the political aisle as well as multiple news outlets and watchdog groups.
Times Union columnist Chris Churchill, the Associated Press and others believe the 6,700-plus nursing home deaths are a “significant undercount.” ProPublica, a left-leaning investigative news publication, also criticized the Democrat governor for releasing a book praising himself for his handling of the virus – despite his failure to be transparent about the nursing home deaths.
The New York Post reports more:
An Associated Press analysis of data indicates the count provided by the state of nursing home deaths may be grossly underreported. Some 323 nursing home residents died between early June and mid-July, according to the AP’s review of federal data — 65 percent higher than the 195 deaths tallied by the state in that same period.
If that rate is indicative of reporting disparities for the duration of the pandemic, it could account for thousands of additional coronavirus-linked deaths on top of the more than 6,400 the state has already confirmed or presumed in nursing homes.
Many New Yorkers also are demanding answers. The Empire Center for Public Policy recently filed a lawsuit demanding that the state release its data on nursing home deaths.
Janice Dean, a senior meteorologist at Fox News, has been a leading critic of Cuomo after both her in-laws died from the coronavirus in March in assisted living and nursing home facilities in New York.
“Here’s one hard truth Cuomo has still yet to tell: how many nursing home residents have died of COVID-19. 9 months into the pandemic, and three months after his health commissioner testified that he was hard at work counting NH deaths, Cuomo has not announced the grim total,” Dean wrote on Twitter in October.
She believes Cuomo’s order led to her in-laws’ and other loved ones’ deaths. And she has been calling for an investigation.
Cuomo is not alone. Four other Democrat governors also ordered nursing homes to take coronavirus patients: New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania and Michigan. These five states have some of the highest nursing home death numbers, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
New York has had the highest COVID-19 death numbers and the highest or second highest death rate (deaths per 100,000) in the United States for months, according to coronavirus statistics updated daily at NBC News.
In June, AARP reported more than 43,000 nursing home residents and staff died from the virus, representing more than one third of all known deaths in the U.S. at the time.
“While dire, this figure is an undercount, experts warn, because not all states are publicly reporting data yet,” according to AARP. “In many states, more than half of coronavirus deaths are connected to long-term care facilities.”
Like many others, Dean said she wants to know why the governor put vulnerable nursing home patients at risk, why he did not use the other makeshift hospitals for COVID-19 patients instead and why the state still has not released the total number of nursing-home deaths linked to the virus.
“This is not political. It’s about accountability @NYGovCuomo,” she wrote on Twitter. “We won’t stop.”