New York nursing homes were forced to accept more than 4,500 coronavirus patients from hospitals thanks to an order from Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a tally by The Associated Press found.
Cuomo has come under heated criticism for his March 25 order forcing recovering COVID-19 patients into New York nursing homes — a decision blamed for the state’s high body count among the elderly. The governor waited roughly six weeks before reversing the order on May 10.
The New York State Department of Health refused to release the results of an internal survey on how many coronavirus patients were placed in nursing homes across the state, the AP reported.
The health department is knowingly under-counting the number of nursing home deaths as a result of a quiet rule change made in late April, a department spokesman previously acknowledged following a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The state changed the rules for counting nursing home deaths between April 28 and May 3, after Cuomo faced scrutiny for ordering nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients.
Until at least April 28, the health department was disclosing coronavirus deaths of all nursing home and adult care facility residents, regardless of whether the patient died at their long-term care facility or at a hospital.
By May 3, the state had made a subtle change to its disclosures, web archives show. The health department now only discloses coronavirus deaths of long-term care patients who died while physically present at their facility.
Put differently: A nursing home resident, who became sick at their nursing home and then died shortly after arriving at a hospital, is omitted from New York’s tally of nursing home deaths.
The end result is a sharp reduction in the official number of deaths at many such facilities. New York is the only state with a major coronavirus outbreak in nursing homes to report those fatalities that way.