What caught the Justice Department’s eye was Gov. Cuomo’s claim that New York’s nursing-home deaths were lower than many other states’ and that his March 25 order didn’t contribute to the extremely high number of New Yorkers who died from Covid. Given the virus’s disproportionate effect on the elderly, sick and frail, this seemed unlikely. On Aug. 26, Justice’s Civil Rights Division, relying on its jurisdiction to investigate government-run facilities under the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, asked the Cuomo administration for data on New York’s publicly run nursing homes, which account for less than 5% of nursing homes in the state.
In September, New York produced data showing it had underreported Covid deaths in government-run nursing homes by a third. The undercounting appeared to be due to several factors. First, when a nursing-home resident who contracted Covid died after being transported to a hospital for treatment, New York didn’t count it as a “nursing-home death.” Second, New York didn’t include deaths occurring before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began requiring Covid reporting from nursing homes in mid-May. CMS made reporting prior Covid deaths optional, and New York apparently elected to keep the information to itself.
Author(s): John B. Daukas
Publication Date: 21 February 2021
Publication Site: Wall Street Journal