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New York Gov. Cuomo Defends State’s Unique Tally System for Coronavirus Deaths in Nursing Homes, Hospitals

— August 23, 2020

Critics of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo claim his administration is under-reporting coronavirus-related deaths at nursing homes by refusing to tally patients who died after being transferred to hospitals.

Only New York, notes The Associated Press, does not count coronavirus fatalities as nursing home fatalities if they occur in any setting other than a nursing home itself.

However, Cuomo has since said that his critics’ claims are illogical.

“If you die in a nursing home, it’s a nursing home death,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “If you die in a hospital, it’s called a hospital death.”

“It doesn’t say where you were before,” he added.

Cuomo further said that counting a hospital death as a nursing home death—or vice versa—has, if anything, the potential to over-exaggerate the state’s total coronavirus death toll.

“And if I’m a nursing home operator, I say: “Don’t say that person died in my nursing home, because they didn’t,’” Cuomo said. “’They died in the hospital. And if the hospital did a better job, they wouldn’t have died. So why do I get the blame for the death when it didn’t happen in my nursing home?’ So it depends on how you want to argue it.”

Image of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, taken by Zack Seward/Flickr. (CCA-BY-2.0)/n-deriv.

But The Associated Press, in an independent investigation, suggested that New York’s unique method of statistical management very likely under-represents the prevalence of coronavirus and coronavirus-related deaths in state nursing homes.

Some New York lawmakers assert that under-counting nursing home deaths is a political tactic designed to make the state seem like it handling coronavirus outbreaks better than it may really be.

New York’s count, says The Associated Press, also enables it to push its progress against COVID on the national stage. By downplaying its gross number of nursing home deaths—a disproportionate site of coronavirus-related deaths—New York may appear to be fighting the virus more effectively than other states.

Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat, seemingly accused Cuomo of misrepresenting reality for his own personal or political again. Speaking to the Empire News, Rivera slammed Cuomo’s upcoming book publication, which details what the state did right—and what it did wrong—in combating the pandemic.

“Don’t be publishing a damn book right now,” Rivera said. “Take responsibility for what is happening.”

Another Democratic politician—New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried—said that Cuomo’s logic on nursing home deaths is clearly flawed.

“It’s patently ridiculous,” Gottfried said. “When you ask an important question and their answer is patently ridiculous, it’s clear something is really wrong here.”

Nevertheless, Cuomo has stuck by his administration’s line, emphasizing that, despite being the nation’s first hard-hit state, New York has managed to curb community transmissions of novel coronavirus with greater success than most anywhere else in the United States.

“New Yorkers should be proud that their hard work and discipline led to another day of low records,” Cuomo said. “But make no mistake: the virus is still surging in parts of the country and until there is a vaccine we cannot become numb or complacent about the risks we face.”


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