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New data shows nearly 15,000 NY nursing home, adult care residents died of COVID-19

For the first time, the New York State Health Department has released data showing that nearly 15,000 nursing home residents and others living at adult long-term care facilities died of COVID-19. The data was released following a court order demanding its disclosure.

The lawsuit to release the numbers was successfully brought by the Empire Center, a government watchdog group, after a Freedom of Information request to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration stalled.

Bill Hammond, the Empire Center’s health policy analyst, said the department over the weekend added to its website 4,080 deaths of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 after being sent to the hospital.

The numbers confirm a report by State Attorney General Tish James, who said the state undercounted nursing home hospital deaths by 50%. And those deaths are in addition to the 9,117 who passed away in a nursing home.

Hammond said the newly released dataalso shows that 219 residents of adult long-term care facilities, including assisted living centers, succumbed to the disease at the facilities and that 1,516 of those who were admitted to the hospital from the facilities died. The total number is 14,932.

Previously, all of those deaths were simply classified as hospital deaths. Hammond said it’s important that the public know the difference.

“The analogy I’ve been drawing is, what if you found out the police department was only reporting crimes that happened during the week and leaving out the crimes that happened on the weekend,” Hammond said.

Under the terms of the court order, the health department is expected to release more detailed data by Wednesday.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.