New York COVID-19 nursing home deaths undercounted by as much as 50%, AG says

WHECTV
Updated: January 28, 2021 04:48 PM
Created: January 28, 2021 10:22 AM

ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — A newly-released report from New York State Attorney General Letitia James found the New York State Department of Health’s (DOH) published nursing home death data may have been undercounted by as much as 50%.

The full report can be found here.

James had been investigating the state since March. Among findings released Thursday, were that a larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than what was reflected in the DOH data.

The report says preliminary data suggests that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which, it says was not reflected in the DOH’s published total nursing home death data. Underreporting was also found in nursing homes reporting in-home deaths to the DOH.

The AG's office reportedly spoke to 62 nursing homes, which is 10% of all nursing homes in the state.

The report also says that nursing homes’ lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm, and facilities that had lower pre-pandemic staffing ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates.

Based on the findings, James says she is conducting ongoing investigations into more than 20 nursing homes whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented "particular concern."

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker released a statement Thursday claiming there was not an undercount, saying, in part, "The New York State Office of the Attorney General report is clear that there was no undercount of the total death toll from this once-in-a-century pandemic. The OAG affirms that the total number of deaths in hospitals and nursing homes is full and accurate. New York State Department of Health has always publicly reported the number of fatalities within hospitals irrespective of the residence of the patient, and separately reported the number of fatalities within nursing home facilities and has been clear about the nature of that reporting. Indeed, the OAG acknowledges in a footnote on page 71 that DOH was always clear that the data on its website pertains to in-facility fatalities and does not include deaths outside of a facility. The word "undercount" implies there are more total fatalities than have been reported; this is factually wrong. In fact, the OAG report itself repudiates the suggestion that there was any "undercount" of the total death number."

Read his full statement below:

Howard Zucker Statement by News10NBC on Scribd

This is a developing story. Stay with News10NBC for updates.


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