New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters during a news conference at a COVID-19 pop-up vaccination site in William Reid Apartments in Brooklyn, New York City, U.S., January 23, 2021. Mary Altaffer/Pool via REUTERS

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The New York Department of Health may have underreported the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent, New York Attorney General Letitia James reported Thursday. According to the report, the state Health Department drastically mismanaged counting COVID-19 related deaths — the current total is 8,500 — and failed to comply with general infection management guidelines in nursing homes. 

“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. Nursing home residents and workers deserve to live and work in safe environments,” stated James.

The report is critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and the overall transparency with data surrounding this issue, as well as the decision to shuttle elderly at-risk nursing home patients. The attorney general’s report found that “many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in the health department’s published total nursing home death data.” Gov. Cuomo is also facing criticism for placing the blame for his administration’s handling of coronavirus on former President Donald Trump, often lauding his own administration’s COVID-19 response.

The media has been sparsely critical of Cuomo and his coronavirus response, and the New York Governor was awarded an Emmy for “his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

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N.Y. Severely Undercounted Virus Deaths in Nursing Homes, Report Says – New York Times – 1/28/2021
They have also been accused of obscuring a more accurate estimate of nursing home deaths, because the state only counted deaths at the actual facilities, rather than including deaths of residents who were transferred to a hospital and died there.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo faults ‘incompetent government’ for COVID deaths – Washington Examiner – 1/28/2021
The report drew criticism from medical officials, both throughout the state and nationally, that local government was biased in its analysis, and some data was intentionally omitted. In late October, the Department of Justice expanded an investigation into the accusations against Cuomo after bipartisan backlash suggested the reported number of nursing home deaths at the time, approximately 6,700, may be off by thousands.

NY nursing home virus deaths were undercounted, AG says – ABC News – 1/28/2021
Her investigators looked at a sample of 62 of the state’s roughly 600 nursing homes. They reported 1,914 deaths of residents from COVID-19, while the state Department of Health logged only 1,229 deaths at those same facilities. If that same pattern exists statewide, James’ report said, it would mean the state is underreporting deaths by nearly 56%.

Nursing Home Deaths In New York Appear To Be Massively Undercounted, New York AG Finds – The Daily Wire – 1/28/2021
That 50% refers to a narrow slice of data – information from 62 hand-selected nursing home facilities and from a time period of just a couple months last spring and summer. As James’ office stated, from “March through August 3, [New York State Department of Health] DOH reported a total of 6,423 resident deaths in nursing homes due to COVID-19, including 3,640 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 2,783 presumed7 COVID-19 deaths.” The data came from New York’s 619 nursing homes, which reported the deaths to DOH.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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