Fox News’ Bryan Llenas reports on a significant undercounting of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes by the state of New York.
Rep. Elise Stefanik is demanding that New York Attorney General Letitia James and the U.S. Justice Department subpoena Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration for documentation and communications regarding his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stefanik’s remarks come after a report by James was released on Thursday that revealed the state’s COVID-19 death count in nursing home facilities was underreported by as much as 50%. The massive undercount in the report that detailed the findings of an investigation into allegations of patient neglect and other “concerning conduct” by nursing home facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stefanik said the revelations detailed in the report are indicative of a “massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York State Government, implicating the Governor, Secretary of the Governor, the New York State Health Commissioner, and the Governor’s staff.”
The laden accusations against New York brass are the culmination of months of backlash and probing after Cuomo’s directive in March requiring nursing homes in the Empire State to accept patients who had or were suspected of having COVID-19. The decision created an onslaught of COVID-19 cases that infected thousands of elderly patients and resulted in hundreds of deaths among the state’s most vulnerable population.
The New York State Department of Health reported that as of Jan. 27, there were 5,957 confirmed deaths due to the coronavirus in nursing homes and an additional 2,783 presumed deaths. In assisted care facilities, there were 160 deaths and 52 presumed deaths.
“As a fellow New Yorker, I want to publicly thank the effective and tireless advocates who have humbly served as the voice of their lost loved ones and have faced inexcusable treatment from the Governor and his entire team, who we know have orchestrated a criminal coverup and have blood on their hands,” Stefanik said.
Cuomo has defended the nursing home policy as in-line with guidance from the Trump administration at the time. The governor was silent Thursday following the new AG report and did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
James’ report said that government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) asked 62 nursing homes to provide data about deaths in their facilities.
In one example, a facility reported five confirmed and six presumed COVID-19 deaths at the facility as of Aug. 3 to the Department of Health, yet reported to the OAG a total of 27 COVID-19 deaths at the facility and 13 hospital deaths — a discrepancy of 29 deaths.