For the first time, the New York State Health Department has released data showing that nearly 15,000 nursing home residents and others living at adult long-term care facilities died of COVID-19. The data was released following a court order demanding its disclosure.
The lawsuit to release the numbers was successfully brought by the government watchdog group the Empire Center, after a Freedom of Information request to the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo stalled.
The Center’s health policy analyst Bill Hammond says the department over the weekend added to its website 4,080 deaths of nursing home residents who died of coronavirus after being sent to the hospital. The numbers confirm a report by State Attorney General Tish James, who said the state undercounted nursing home hospital deaths by 50%. And those deaths are in addition to the 9,117 who died in a nursing home. Hammond says the newly released data also shows that 219 residents of adult long-term care facilities, including assisted living centers, succumbed to the virus at the facilities, and that 1,516 of those were admitted to the hospital from the facilities died. The total number is 14,932.
Previously, all of those deaths were simply classified as hospital deaths. Hammond says it’s important that the public know the difference.
“The analogy I’ve been drawing is, what if you found out the police department was only reporting crimes that happened during the week and leaving out the crimes that happened on the weekend,” Hammond said.
Under the terms of the court order, the health department is expected to release more detailed data by Wednesday.