When Governor Hochul took office last week, she inherited all but five of the 63 requests for comprehensive pandemic data that the Empire Center filed earlier this summer.

How quickly her administration chips away at that unfinished business will provide a yardstick of her commitment to governing transparently — and to ending a pattern of secrecy and deception that contributed to former Governor Cuomo’s downfall.

Hochul made a significant gesture of openness on her first day, posting a more comprehensive tally of statewide COVID-19 deaths that was 12,000 higher than the one used by the Cuomo administration.

The day before, ironically, the Health Department had denied a request for detailed fatality data — which would have included the dates and locations of the newly acknowledged 12,000 deaths — on grounds that the information could not be retrieved with “reasonable effort.” The Empire Center has appealed that decision.

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center’s record requests. The number of data sets released by Health Department has remained at five.

Modeled on a list of COVID-19 data sets compiled by Reinvent Albany, the center’s requests were meant to cover the gamut of pandemic information collected by the state. They sought previously unavailable details on infections, hospitalizations and deaths; records of how the pandemic unfolded in institutional settings such as nursing homes, prisons and psychiatric centers; copies of policy directive issued by state officials; information on purchases of equipment and supplies; and more. A full listing is available here.

All but one of the original requests was submitted to the Health Department on June 22. Some have since been modified or redirected to other agencies.

Here is where things stood as of midday Sept. 2:

Records provided:

Requests denied:

  • Deaths by ZIP code and date (not retrievable with reasonable effort; under appeal)
  • Summary of contact tracing (confidential by law)
  • Average time from positive test to hospitalization (no records available)
  • Average time from positive test to death (no records available)

Requests partially denied:

  • Fatalities by age, sex, ethnicity, comorbidities, date and county (incomplete records provided; under appeal)

Requests withdrawn:

Requests under appeal:

  • Deaths by ZIP code and date (denied/not retrievable with reasonable effort)
  • Fatalities by age, sex, ethnicity, co-morbidities, date and county (on grounds that records provided were incomplete)

Requests previously appealed:

  • Nursing home resident infections by facility and date (appeal objecting to unreasonable delay was denied)
  • Nursing home staff infections by facility and date (appeal objecting to unreasonable delay was denied)

Requests pending:

  • 42 at the Department of Health
  • Two referred to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
  • Two referred to the Office of Mental Health
  • Two referred to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities
  • Four referred to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

You may also like

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

As leaves turn, NY’s post-pandemic recovery still has very far to go

Entering the second autumn since the COVID-19 outbreak of March 2020, the pace of New York State's pandemic economic recovery has been abysmal by almost any standard. New York was the national epicenter of the pandemic, and Governor Cuomo's "" business Read More

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Manhattan Office Suites Emptier Than Other Major Metros

Fewer than one in four New York City office workers are back in the office, according to a pair of datasets issued this week.    Read More

NY continues to trail U.S. in climb back to pre-pandemic jobs level

New York managed to tie the nation’s private-sector job growth rate in July—but compared to the U.S. as a whole, the Empire State remains much further below its pre-recession employment level, according to preliminary e Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Can Cuomo still be impeached?

Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump have more in common than boyhood homes in Queens. Like Trump, Cuomo could still face impeachment and an impeachment trial despite a promise to resign as Governor later this month. Read More

The Gov’s pension

There are several (dozens? hundreds?) of unanswered questions as the fallout from Andrew Cuomo's resignation earlier today continues. Among those are questions related to his pension, some of which can be answered, sort of. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!