The total number of long-term care facility deaths linked to the Chinese coronavirus “jumped by another 1,516” as the state continues to update its numbers following last month’s bombshell report from New York Attorney General Letitia James. The report found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) administration vastly undercounted the number of nursing home deaths “by as much as 50 percent.”
As the Empire Center for Public Policy detailed, reported deaths in New York’s long-term care facilities have jumped 63 percent in the last ten days alone, although the Cuomo administration maintains that the changes do not affect the overall coronavirus death toll. Nevertheless, long-term care facility deaths have jumped from 9,154 as of January 28 to nearly 15,000:
The newly disclosed deaths represented an almost eight-fold increase for assisted living and other adult-care facilities, which provide non-medical services for their elderly and disabled residents.
When combined with the recently revealed count of nursing home residents who died in hospitals, the publicly reported toll in New York’s long-term care facilities had increased by almost 5,800, or 63 percent, over the past 10 days (see table).
The Health Department’s data on long-term care deaths had previously omitted residents who were sent to hospitals before passing away, a practice used by no other state. Officials had refused to share the full count in spite of months of queries from legislators and the media and a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Empire Center.
Cuomo’s administration came under fire over controversial guidance at the start of the pandemic, requiring such facilities to accept positive coronavirus patients over worries of hospital capacity. According to the state’s department of health, “approximately 6,326 COVID-positive residents were admitted to facilities between March 25, 2020 and May 8, 2020.”
Cuomo doubled down following the revelation of James’s report, defending his state as having “a lower percentage of deaths in nursing homes than other states.”
“Look, whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home, it’s — people died. People died,” he said during a January 29 press conference.
“But we’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes,” he continued. “But who cares? Thirty-three [percent], 28 [percent], died in a hospital, died in a nursing home. They died”:
New York leads the nation in overall coronavirus fatalities, reporting 44,979 coronavirus-related deaths, according to Worldometers.