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

Statement on the release of new COVID-19 Death Toll data

The Cuomo administration left out many people who died without a test during the early weeks of the pandemic Read More

An Open Letter to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul

As an organization committed to openness in government, we welcome your commitment to leading a fully transparent administration Read More

Empire Center Appeals COVID FOIL Request Delays

Empire Center has appealed four delayed Freedom of Information Law requests pertaining to state COVID-19 data Read More

Three of 62 Requested COVID Data Sets Made Available through FOIL

Just three COVID data sets have been made fully available in the month since the Empire Center officially submitted 62 FOIL requests Read More

Empire Center Recognized for Exposing NY Nursing Home Coverup

In recognition of the importance of government transparency, the Empire Center has been selected as a finalist for the for its role in exposing the coverup of thousands of COVID-related deaths among New York’s elderly population. In the thick of the Read More

Arbeeny Family and Empire Center Partner to Promote Open Government

The family of Norman Arbeeny has made a generous donation to the Empire Center to bring more openness and transparency to New York State government. Read More

Empire Center Demands Dozens of Coronavirus Data Sets from the NYS DOH

The Empire Center filed 62 Freedom of Information Law requests for coronavirus-related records from the Department of Health. Read More

A Shadowy Non-Profit that Employs One-Fifth of the New York State Health Department Claims To Be Exempt from FOIL

In another blow to transparency in Albany, a non-profit group closely tied to the state Health Department is refusing to publicly disclose its payroll records under the Freedom of Information Law. (HRI) has funct 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!