If lawmakers continue to argue over the next steps in the state’s response to release complete data about COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes after the Health Department released additional data late Wednesday, a court order might not be strong enough to force the issue.
So when Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and the Health Department released additional coronavirus death statistics in long-term care facilities, it was sufficient to keep the critics temporarily at bay, but still not opened up to allow full transparency. Now the question is, where does the state Legislature go from here?
Besides answering a letter from Senate Democrats six months after it was sent and releasing nursing home data in dribs and drabs two weeks ago, the Cuomo administration and state health leaders still have not satisfactorily answered the fundamental query: What happened in those nursing homes and why? The public is demanding answers.
The state has revealed 12,743 total COVID-19 deaths of skilled nursing facility residents from March 1, 2020, through Jan. 19, 2021, including 9,786 confirmed virus fatalities — 5,957 in nursing facilities and 3,829 in hospitals — and 2,957 presumed virus nursing home deaths. The 12,743 confirmed and presumed deaths reflect a 42.4% increase in the state’s previously published total COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
The issue of accessibility to information about nursing home deaths has been discussed and debated for months. The questions about why so many people died and the reasons behind it should have been answered by now. The Cuomo administration doesn’t appear to be in a rush to hand over all the facts. State lawmakers need to stop the in-fighting and unite in the name of full transparency and accountability.