New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed concerns that his state’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes could be a significant undercount, saying it makes sense to include only those residents who died on the home’s property.
Unlike the federal government and every other state with major outbreaks, only New York explicitly says that it counts just residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there.
“If you die in a nursing home, it’s a nursing home death. If you die in the hospital, it’s called a hospital death,” the Democratic governor said Wednesday during an interview on Albany public radio station WAMC. “It doesn’t say where were you before.”
Cuomo said if New York were to count a death as a nursing home death and a hospital death, that could lead to a “double count.”
“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.”
Many have accused Cuomo’s administration of refusing to divulge the complete count to make it appear that his state is doing better than others on the nursing home crisis and make a tragic situation less dire.
An Associated Press report last week found that New York’s official care home death count of more than 6,620 is not only an undercount but that it is likely undercounted by thousands of deaths. It noted how a separate federal count since May included resident deaths in hospitals and was 65 percent higher than the comparable state count that didn’t.