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Cuomo Defends NY’s COVID Death Count

File photo: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley
File photo: Ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the state’s death count during the COVID-19 pandemic, following a report by the Associated Press that says New York may have undercounted the number of deaths from the disease by as many as 11,000.

The AP reports that, according to data that New York State has provided to the federal government on the number of deaths from COVID-19, the CDC says around 54,000 New Yorkers have passed away so far during the pandemic. But the state Health Department lists around 43,000 deaths from the disease.

Governor Cuomo was asked about the discrepancy at a news conference Wednesday.

“We have always reported lab-tested COVID results,” Cuomo said. “CDC asks for additional information on, I forget their terminology, possible or presumed COVID deaths, which we report to them and then they report.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, says the state gives the federal agency data about presumed deaths due to COVID, and leaves it to the federal government to report that tally.

The AP finds that other states including California, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey report death numbers that mirror the CDC numbers, and count all cases where COVID is either the cause of death or a contributing factor.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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