New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office was tracking deaths from COVID-19 in nursing and other long-term care facilities as early as April of 2020, despite officials’ claims that a July 2020 New York Department of Health report listing nursing home deaths could not be “verified.”
It also appears, according to Fox News, that Cuomo’s administration was getting daily reports from nursing homes that allowed it to track both the number and locations of COVID-19 deaths in those facilities.
“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration was tracking the location of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 since at least April 2020, despite officials’ claims that those numbers could not be ‘verified’ for a report issued months later,” the outlet said in its exclusive report. “The revelation comes in a new Department of Health document obtained exclusively by Fox News. According to the document, nursing homes were required to submit the number of residents who died from COVID-19 at least once daily.”
On April 19, 2020, the governor’s office issued the document requesting that nursing homes list the locations of resident deaths. “The new field will collect the resident’s Place of Death and is required for all resident deaths you are reporting in that section,” the document read.
“The document raises new questions about the Cuomo administration’s decision to exclude key details from a July 2020 report about COVID-19 in nursing homes,” Fox added. “According to the New York Times, senior officials including the governor’s top aide intervened to exclude thousands of nursing home deaths before the report was released, including out-of-facility deaths.”
A spokesperson for the New York Department of Health told Fox News that it had been receiving reports “daily from more than 1,000 long term care facilities and more than 200 hospitals since the start of this pandemic” but that in April of 2020 “we asked for additional information to provide a more specific clinical picture, and as part of that correspondence we asked all facilities to provide that same level of information retrospectively to March 1.”
Before the change, the reports included only the initials of those who died as well as their ages.
A senior health policy director at the Empire Institute, which filed a lawsuit to obtain the document, noted to Fox News that the document appears to be evidence that Cuomo’s administration was tracking deaths of nursing home residents from COVID-19, with special care to note where those deaths occurred. The Cuomo administration said, later, that they did not have verified data of how many nursing home residents died of the virus outside nursing home walls.
“Beginning in mid-April, the Health Department was specifically tracking how many residents died in the nursing homes as well as how many died in hospitals — yet they arbitrarily kept the second number secret in defiance of the public’s right to know,” the expert told Fox.
The news provides a new facet to claims that the Cuomo administration deliberately downplayed the number of deaths that resulted from a policy, issued early on in the pandemic, forcing nursing and other adult care facilities to take recovering COVID-19 patients, even if those patients were still considered contagious or tested positive for the virus. The policy may have resulted in more than 10,000 nursing home deaths from the virus.
Earlier this year, the policy returned to the headlines after a Cuomo aid reportedly told Democratic lawmakers that the administration had deliberately downplayed the number of nursing home deaths. Reports differed as to why the administration chose to under-report numbers.