In a move that is reminiscent of Bill Clinton saying “It depends on what your definition of ‘is,’ is,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appears to have significantly under-counted nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 by drawing a line as to where the patient died.
If you lived in a nursing home for the past several years, fell ill with the disease, but were transported to a hospital before you passed, then Cuomo claims you didn’t die of the disease in a nursing home. He’s technically correct, but obviously fudging the facts.
And then he makes it worse.
New York is the ONLY state to draw the distinction above, and with that much more stringent way of counting has recorded about 20% of its deaths, or just over 6,600 in nursing homes. But the governor isn’t shy about comparing his nursing home figures with those of other states who count all the deaths of people who live in nursing homes, not just those who happened to perish before they could be transported to a health facility.
The difference isn’t small. Federal data from early June through mid-July showed the number of deaths in New York nursing homes to be 65% higher than what the state reported. The state health department shows 21,000 empty nursing home beds, which is 13,000 more than expected, and is double the official count of nursing home deaths from COVID-19.
When questioned about deaths in nursing homes, Cuomo quickly calls out Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, where deaths in nursing homes accounted for 68%, 64%, and 44% of all deaths, respectively.
At a briefing on Monday, Cuomo said:
“Look at the basic facts where New York is versus other states. You look at where New York is as a percentage of nursing home deaths, it’s all the way at the bottom of the list”
In an earlier briefing, Cuomo said:
“Go talk to 34 other states (that rank higher) first. Go talk to the Republican states now — Florida, Texas, Arizona — ask them what is happening in nursing homes. It’s all politics.”
At least he’s right about that. It’s all politics.