According to a report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s (D) administration severely undercounted the number of COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.
“Preliminary data obtained by OAG suggests that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in [the Department of Health’s] published total nursing home death data,” a summary of the report reads.
The report surveyed 62 nursing homes, 10% of the state’s total number of facilities, to ask them about on-site and in-hospital deaths from COVID-19.
There were discrepancies found between the number of deaths reported to the office of the attorney general and those published by the state health department.
“In one example, a facility reported five confirmed and six presumed COVID-19 deaths at the facility as of August 3 to DOH. However, the facility reported to OAG a total of 27 COVID-19 deaths at the facility and 13 hospital deaths — a discrepancy of 29 deaths,” the summary reads.
The attorney general’s office also received complaints about nursing homes failing to “implement proper infection controls” to prevent the spread of the virus.
Several nursing homes were accused of failing to isolate residents who tested positive for COVID-19 and properly screen or test employees for the virus.
“As the pandemic and our investigations continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate,” James said in a statement.
She continued, “While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents. Nursing homes residents and workers deserve to live and work in safe environments, and I will continue to work hard to safeguard this basic right during this precarious time.”
The attorney general’s office is currently investigating more than 20 nursing homes across the state.