Tonight the Cuomo administration released additional data on coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities that the Empire Center requested under the Freedom of Information Law.

The data have been posted on our website here.

The release came six months after the FOIL request was submitted, five months after we and the Government Justice Center filed suit, and one week after a court found that the department had violated FOIL and ordered it to release what were clearly public records.

Still, the department’s response falls short of what was requested—and therefore what Justice Kimberly O’Connor ordered.

First, the records do not fully account for the deaths of some 600 residents that occurred outside of the long-term care facilities, most often in hospitals, in which the COVID-19 diagnosis was presumed rather than confirmed.

The department provided a summary of those deaths, but not their dates. The department has been reporting presumed deaths inside the facilities since early May. Withholding this data appears to be a violation of Justice Kimberly O’Connor’s court order, and we will attempt to address this first with DOH.

Second, the department provided the data in a password-protection spreadsheet when we had specifically requested otherwise. This was a relatively minor inconvenience, but violates the spirit if not the letter of the Freedom of Information Law.

Between last week’s court order and tonight’s formal response, the department posted new death totals for each facility, including hospital deaths that had previously been omitted. Those revelations increased the known death toll from about 9,000 to almost 15,000—making clear that the pandemic’s toll on long-term care residents was much worse than the Cuomo administration previously portrayed it to be.

This six-month fight should not have been necessary, The department should have been disclosing these numbers all along, and certainly should have provided them upon request—not just from Empire Center, but from legislators, reporters and members of the public.

We are in the process of analyzing the data provided and will share our findings in the days and weeks ahead.

Our thanks go to the Government Justice Center for providing legal representation, and to Sen. James Tedisco for filing a friend-of-the-court brief in support of our lawsuit.

You may also like

Post-Pandemic, New York should “Keep the Change”

Albany, NY — Many of the executive orders signed during the COVID-19 pandemic should be codified into law, specifically those that address health care services, occupational licensing and government transparency, according to a new Empi Read More

Empire Center Sues Cuomo Administration for Withholding Nursing Home COVID Data

The Empire Center today filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Health (DOH) after DOH refused to release records showing the full count of coronavirus deaths among nursing home residents, including those that occurred after patients were transferred to hospitals. 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!