More than 1,500 more elderly residents of New York State adult-care facilities died from COVID-19 than health officials previously reported, a new report reveals.
The number, accounting for an eight-fold leap over the 219 deaths reported earlier from the facilities, comes after state officials adjusted the figures to reflect adult-care patients who died in hospitals rather than the centers themselves, the Empire Center for Public Policy said Sunday.
The revelation also comes one day after state health officials also quietly updated their statistics for nursing home deaths from the pandemic to reflect an additional 4,067 patients who died in hospitals.
Unlike nursing homes, adult-care and assisted-living facilities do not typically have medical staff on-site, and residents who require medical care are routinely sent to hospitals.
The combined updates from both nursing homes and other elderly care facilities brings the state toll for long-term facilities to nearly 15,000.
But the Empire Center — which won a legal battle to get the state to reveal all long-term care deaths — said it still wants more data, like death counts for each day for each facility.
“The additional data posted this weekend — broken into separate reports for assisted living facilities and other adult-care facilities — give a fuller picture of the pandemic’s overall impact, but fall far short of what the court-ordered the department to release,” the Empire Center said in its report.
In another damning report last month, state Attorney General Letitia James slammed the health department for underreporting elderly COVID-19 fatalities by omitting hospital deaths for nursing home patients.
Cuomo’s office Sunday night provided a statement issued by state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker last week.
“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,” Zucker said.
“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.”
Cuomo and the department have said in the past that the elderly deaths were previously part of the state’s overall COVID-19 death count, before being ordered to release more detailed figures.