A new report from NY State Attorney General Letitia James reveals that data from The New York Department of Health shows (DOH) COVID-19 related deaths reported was well below actual numbers, by as much as 50% lower. The investigations by James office also found that nursing homes’ lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm, and facilities that had lower pre-pandemic staffing ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates.

Preliminary data obtained by the AG suggests that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in Health Dept.'s published total nursing home death data. Preliminary data also reflects apparent underreporting to The DOH by some nursing homes of resident deaths occurring in nursing homes.

Attorney General James says, “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.”

Reacting to the report were 51st District State Senator Peter Oberacker and 121st District State Representative John Salka. Oberacker says if that number is accurate, then NY State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker should immediately resign. Salka issued a statement calling for the legislature to remove Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 emergency powers because of the underreporting.

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