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NY attorney general: Nursing home COVID-19 deaths undercounted by up to 50%

A report issued by Attorney General Letitia James this morning states that COVID-19 nursing home deaths may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent.

News 12 Staff

Jan 28, 2021, 10:53 PM

Updated 1,237 days ago

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A report issued by Attorney General Letitia James Thursday morning alleges the Department of Health may have undercounted COVID-19 nursing home deaths by as much as 50% - in part because residents who passed away at the hospital were not included.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been heavily criticized for his handling of nursing homes during the height of the pandemic, and the attorney general says one of his policies, which directed facilities to accept patients who tested positive, may have put other residents at risk.
The report found evidence that some nursing homes did not isolate COVID-19 positive residents, failed to screen staff for the virus, and demanded that sick employees continue working.
But nursing home industry spokesperson Stephen Hanse claims those shortcomings happened because of a lack of funding.
"The CDC did not designate nursing homes for priority for COVID-19 testing. We struggled to secure PPE, we had staffing shortages, and all along we said we need to be treated equal in terms of priority as hospitals," says Hanse, from the New York State Health Facilities Association.
News 12 reached out to the governor's office for comment and is waiting to hear back.
In response to the report, New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker wrote: “The Office of the Attorney General suggests that all should be counted as nursing home deaths and not hospital deaths even though they died in hospitals. That does not in any way change the total count of deaths, but is instead a question of allocating the number of deaths between hospitals and nursing homes.
News 12 also reached out to Catholic Health Services, which operates a West Islip nursing home, but has not heard back so far.


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