Cuomo slammed for blaming NY COVID deaths on government incompetence

Cuomo slammed for blaming NY COVID deaths on government incompetence

Attorney General Letitia James has, for months, been examining discrepancies between the number of deaths being reported by the state's Department of Health, and the number of deaths reported by the homes themselves. These thousands of nursing home infections and deaths were concerning to the families of the patients and to members of the public who questioned the state's policy to count only COVID-19 deaths that occurred at the facility and ignore the deaths of residents who contracted the virus in their nursing home but later died in the hospital.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced updated guidance for wedding receptions in the state. They reported 1,914 deaths of residents from COVID-19, while the state Department of Health logged only 1,229 deaths at those same facilities.

The issue of deaths in nursing homes has been a sore one for Cuomo, who has largely been lauded for his handling of the coronavirus crisis. "New York, actually, we're number 46 out of 50 in terms of percentage of deaths in nursing homes - 46 out of 50".

Zucker said that because the AG's report refers to the count of people who were in nursing homes but transferred to hospitals and later died, it does not change the total count of deaths.

"While we can not 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", James said.

Investigators surveyed more than 60 nursing homes and found discrepancies between the number of deaths recorded and numbers previously reported by state officials.

It's not the first time long-term care facilities in NY were found to have failed to comply with basic infection control policies; in September, health inspectors looking at 77 NY nursing homes found safety shortcomings that included basic infection-control violations like failing to have staff wear masks or wash their hands, according to records and state officials.

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The attorney general's finding contradicts an internal report conducted by the state's Health Department and Cuomo's claims last summer that the state did nothing wrong and that most of the patients returned to nursing homes "were no longer contagious when admitted and therefore were not a source of infection".

Dr. Zucker also heaped blame on nursing home operators. One unidentified facility had an official death toll of 11, but the attorney general's investigation found 40 deaths. The report also found that nursing homes were severely lacking adequate coronavirus testing of the people inside and that numerous facilities did not follow an executive order mandating that family members of the patients be allowed to communicate with them. Cuomo's administration issued this guidance in March.

"Families who lost loved ones deserve honest answers", Mr. Rivera told the AP.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) was mocked after he blamed COVID-19 deaths in his state on "incompetent government". "For their sake, I hope that this report will help us unveil the truth and put policies in place to prevent such tragedies in the future".

"DOH does not disagree that the number of people transferred from a nursing home to a hospital is an important data point, and is in the midst of auditing this data from nursing homes", Zucker added.

"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", she said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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