Report: Cuomo death toll in nursing homes "several hundred and possibly more than a thousand"

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Did Andrew Cuomo’s order to nursing home to admit COVID-positive patients and staff account for one in six deaths in these facilities during the first months of the pandemic? So says the center-right think tank Empire Center in an upcoming new report analyzing the impact of that decision. Cuomo’s order might be directly responsible for as many as over one thousand deaths (via PJ Media):

The Cuomo administration’s controversial directive for nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients amid the pandemic likely did lead to a spike in resident deaths, an analysis of its own data revealed Thursday.

The study by the nonprofit Empire Center for Public Policy tied “several hundred and possibly more than 1,000” fatalities to the since-rescinded March 25, 2020, order that critics have blamed for spreading the coronavirus among vulnerable seniors.

The analysis also suggests the controversial mandate is “associated with” more than one in six of 5,780 nursing deaths statewide between late March and early May.

“The findings contradict a central conclusion of the state Department of Health’s July 6 report on coronavirus in nursing homes, which said, among other things: ‘Admission policies were not a significant factor in nursing home fatalities,’ and ‘the data do not show a consistent relationship between admissions and increased mortality,’ ” according to a draft report prepared by the Empire Center.

That’s a bold claim, especially for deaths in the opening curve of a pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus. The New York Post reports that the Empire Center believes its methodology will stand up to scrutiny on this point. They also argue that the state’s Department of Health’s methodology in concluding the opposite used only partial data and less reliable computation:

Bill Hammond, the center’s senior fellow for health policy and author of the report, said the policy — which Cuomo reversed on May 10 — “clearly did make some difference and it made a bad situation worse.”

Hammond also said the data he reviewed “raises more questions about the credibility of the Health Department’s analysis” in its July report.

“Their methodology was questionable — we know they used partial data for crucial variables, deaths and admissions,” he said.

“It’s not clear that they looked for, let alone reported, the kind of statistical correlation that we found.”

It’s not clear that they were allowed to do so. Don’t forget that the DoH report came at the same time that Cuomo and his team were cooking the books, almost literally in one sense as Cuomo was getting a big payday for a book on leadership during the pandemic. Cuomo had five million reasons (and change) to pressure DoH into issuing a friendly report. At the same time, Cuomo and his team hid the numbers in order to keep the federal government from finding out the true scope of damage Cuomo had created with his nursing-home order.

This report will put more pressure on the state legislature and state AG Letitia James to produce results from their investigations into Cuomo’s corruption. Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice might feel more pressure as well, especially since there’s a question of just how enthusiastic a Democratic administration might be in pursuing Cuomo. Mostly, though, the families of those who died as a result of Cuomo’s order and subsequent cover-up are owed an accounting for it. And the rest of the people of New York are owed accountability for practically everything else Cuomo has done over the past year, too.