Health Care

NY Health Commissioner Releases Nursing Home Death Tally after AG Report

New York State Department Health Commissioner Howard Zucker speaks during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, N.Y., January 13, 2021. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

New York health commissioner Howard Zucker has released a more complete tally of coronavirus victims who lived in nursing homes in the state, after a report from state Attorney General Letitia James alleged the Department of Health undercounted the death toll.

The DOH admitted in May that it had altered the way it reports coronavirus deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, in comments to The Daily Caller. While residents who died in the facilities themselves were listed as coronavirus victims in nursing homes, residents who died after being transported to a hospital were not included in that tally.

The change in reporting made it appear that the state’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes was lower than in reality. Additionally, the change occurred amid heightened scrutiny into a March 25 executive order by Governor Andrew Cuomo, mandating that nursing homes admit patients regardless of whether they had coronavirus or not. That order has been blamed for potentially exacerbating New York’s coronavirus epidemic.

In a 1,700-word statement on Thursday evening, Health Commissioner Zucker admitted that as of January 19, 3,829 nursing home residents died of coronavirus after being transported to a hospital. The state’s official tally of nursing home deaths as of January 19 was 8,914. This means that the number of nursing home residents who died of coronavirus is 12,743, or 43 percent higher than the official tally.

Zucker blamed the administration of former President Trump for the high death toll.

AG James’s “report demonstrates that the recurring problems in nursing homes and by facility operators resulted from a complete abdication by the Trump administration of its duty to manage this pandemic,” Zucker wrote.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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