Story at a glance:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo undercounted nursing home patients who died of COVID-19 by at least 50 percent, reports the paper.
  • Cuomo was preparing a new book while allegedly hiding the death toll.
  • Nursing home patients who were transferred to a hospital weren’t counted as a nursing home death in the death toll.

The New York Times is reporting that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and his administration undercounted the toll of nursing home patients by as much as 50 percent.

The Times reported that Cuomo, who was pitching a book on how he governed during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, intentionally undercounted the number of deaths in the state in a span of five months.


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Facing scrutiny from Republicans, including then-President Trump, who specifically requested to see nursing home death data in New York, Cuomo told his state’s health officials, including the New York State Department of Health commissioner, Howard Zucker, to not release the true death toll to the public or share it with state lawmakers, the Times reported.

A paper that incorporated coronavirus-related data was never published, and Cuomo's top aide did not start an audit until its absence became public. Additionally, two drafted letters by Zucker's department were never sent to state legislators.

When COVID-19 hit New York in March 2020, the administration put a policy in place preventing nursing homes from refusing to take care of the elderly who were discharged from hospitals after COVID-19 treatment. 

Although the policy seemed intentionally good, some critics say the measure might have contributed to the death toll in the spring, which the administration placed around 6,000.

The Attorney General’s office, led by Letitia James, found out in late January that the official tally might have undercounted by half, saying some of the deaths from patients who came from nursing homes but died in hospitals were not counted.

Cuomo's justification is that he did not want to double count and didn’t want to release data that he wasn’t sure was accurate. His lawyer told the Times the timing of his book had nothing to do with the counts.


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Published on Apr 29, 2021