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Cuomo defends lower COVID-19 death count

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday defended the state’s death count during the COVID-19 pandemic after a report by the Associated Press that said New York may have undercounted the number of deaths from the disease by as many as 11,000 people.

The AP reported that according to data that New York state has provided to the federal government on the number of COVID-19 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control said about 54,000 New Yorkers have died so far during the pandemic. But the state Health Department lists about 43,000 deaths from the disease.

Cuomo was asked about the discrepancy at a news conference.

“We have always reported lab-tested results,” Cuomo said. “CDC asks for additional information.”

Cuomo said the state gives the federal agency data about presumed deaths due to COVID-19 and leaves it to the federal government to report that tally.

The AP found that other states, including California, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, report death numbers that mirror the CDC numbers, and count all cases where COVID-19 is either the cause of death or a contributing factor.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.