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New York AG report: Cuomo administration has severely under-counted COVID deaths in nursing homes

The Cuomo administration likely subtracted thousands of deaths of nursing home residents from the figures it presented, says New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Updated: January 28, 2021 - 4:28pm

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Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, is accusing the Cuomo administration of severely undercounting the coronavirus-related deaths that have occurred at nursing homes — by up to 50% — according to a report released Thursday. 

The exact number of nursing home deaths is an issue that had plagued the New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was hailed by the media and political allies for his initial pandemic response, when the state was the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.

The governor and the state health department have been sensitive since last spring to accusations that any actions of theirs could be tied to the more than 8,500 officially reported deaths in New York state nursing homes.

The 76-page report by James, reported Thursday in the New York Times, found consistent and significant discrepancies between the number of deaths reported to the office of the attorney general by nursing homes and the death count officially released by the New York Health Department. 

"Preliminary data obtained by O.A.G. suggests that many nursing home residents died from Covid-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in D.O.H.'s published total nursing home death data," reads a summary of the AG's report. 

In particular, Cuomo has been criticized for a late March memorandum from his health department that instructed nursing homes to accept patients with coronavirus into their facilities.

In many cases, the illness then rapidly spread to other nursing home residents. However, the health department in July issued a report that refuted the claim that the March policy led to a significant number of nursing home outbreaks. 

The report by James, a Democrat, pits her against Cuomo, a fellow party member.  

Nursing home residents and their families — especially those who have lost parents and grandparents — have consistently accused the governor of failing to protect a vulnerable population, then repeatedly failing to accept responsibility for a number of decisions that led to thousands of deaths. 

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