Attorney General Investigation of Nursing Home Deaths in New York State Yields Troubling Details
The attorney general in New York State said a months-long investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo may have underestimated COVID deaths in long-term-care facilities by as much as 50 percent.
Copies of highlighted letters to long-term nursing facilities from both New Jersey and New York states, acquired by Sen. Joe Pennacchio, show that New Jersey’s correspondence mirrored Gov. Cuomo’s directives. Click to enlarge. (SenateNJ.com)
The revelations reported Thursday by CNBC and other media outlets raised more questions about New Jersey’s reporting of more than 7,600 lives lost in facilities, State Senator Joe Pennacchio said.
“Early in the pandemic, it was obvious New Jersey’s COVID policies were shadowing New York’s. The details of New York’s investigation is especially troubling since there has been no similar analysis of the horrific conditions in our nursing homes and the heartbreaking loss of life,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The disturbing findings of the attorney general’s report suggest the possibility of an effort to conceal the harsh reality.
“This is one more example of why the Legislature needs to investigate and find out what was going on in senior homes in our state.”
The 76-page report, produced by New York State’s Democrat attorney general and directed at the Democrat governor, said that “a larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than public DOH data reflected,” and that “many residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes.”
In May, while the virus continued to spread through long-term facilities like wildfire, Pennacchio released copies of memorandums and letters from both New York and New Jersey indicating that nursing home policies in the Garden State were following the lead of its neighbor to the north.
“It was like the blind leading the blind,” Pennacchio said. “We had a paper trail. Whatever the Cuomo administration did, New Jersey followed. As a result of this ill-fated game of follow-the-leader, thousands upon thousands of seniors died in both states.”
Almost 8,000 nursing home residents and workers lost their lives in New Jersey, and with the New York revelations, that figure could be much higher. The Department of Health COVID dashboard lists an overall total of 19,172 confirmed deaths and another 2,129 probable deaths.
Of 42,000 virus deaths in New York, that state’s department of health says 8,711 live were lost in senior facilities, and the AG’s office puts the number at 12,743, an increase of 46 percent.
“Recorded New Jersey nursing home deaths were similar to New York, a state with a population more than twice the size of New Jersey. Why?” asked Pennacchio.
“By all indications, it looks like Cuomo was cooking the books, and it’s anybody’s guess what the real story is on this side of the state line,” Pennacchio said. “It is not unreasonable to think that if there were reporting inaccuracies or under-counts in New York, we may have them here, as well.”
In May, it was revealed that New Jersey nursing home patients who died in hospitals were not counted as nursing home fatalities.
“The Legislature must launch an oversight committee or we will never know what was really going on behind the locked doors of the nursing home death traps, and we’ll never know the full impact the virus had on these facilities. New York finally got some answers, and now it’s our turn,” Pennacchio noted.