New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration undercounted coronavirus deaths at nursing homes by over 50%, said a new report from New York Attorney General Letitia James according to the New York Post.
James said in the 76-page report that some nursing homes also underreported their deaths to the state’s Department of Health and failed to enforce rules to contain the spread of the virus. More than 20 of these nursing homes are now under investigation.
The report is likely to increase the current Department of Health count of 8,711 deaths at 62 nursing homes to more than 13,000.
The report says that at least 4,000 residents died after Cuomo issued a controversial requirement in March for nursing homes to allow “medically stable” coronavirus patients in their facilities, which James said “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.”
“As the pandemic and our investigations continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate,” James said on Thursday.
“While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents,” she added.
Cuomo ignored warning:
Cuomo’s directive came despite warnings from Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to protect particularly vulnerable people at nursing homes as the disease raged through the state.
“All you need is one person — an air-conditioning repairman, a delivery person — and once that virus gets in the nursing home, it’s fire through dry grass,” Zucker said over the summer.
James’ report shows that nursing homes accounted for nearly a third of all coronavirus deaths in the state.
“We have to make sense of this. We have to get the full truth. … And we have to be honest about the numbers,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “These are our loved ones that we lost. It’s someone’s grandma, it’s someone’s mother or father, aunt or uncle. This is families missing someone dear to them. Among all the other pain that we went through in 2020, this was arguably the worst part of it.”