In a letter to the Empire Center for Public Policy on Wednesday, the state Health Department claimed that it needs another nine weeks and five days to comply with the legal request for a full accounting of nursing home deaths “because the records potentially responsive to your request are currently being reviewed for applicable exemptions, legal privileges and responsiveness.”

The Empire Center submitted its FOIL request on Aug. 3 seeking the total number of COVID-19 nursing home fatalities — those who died in nursing homes and those who were ill and died after being transported to hospitals.

The state Health Department is only publicly reporting residents who physically died in nursing homes – but not those who died after being sent to hospitals for medical care.