In recognition of the importance of government transparency, the Empire Center has been selected as a finalist for the 2021 Bob Williams Award for Most Influential Research for its role in exposing the coverup of thousands of COVID-related deaths among New York’s elderly population.

In the thick of the pandemic, all eyes were on New York as the epicenter. Ultimately, it became clear that much of the Empire State’s “success” in protecting its elderly population was just smoke and mirrors.

The NY Health Department’s public reports counted only residents who died physically within the homes, leaving out thousands more who died after being transferred to hospitals. This understated the human loss and impeded efforts to learn critical lessons from a public health catastrophe.

To obtain the full truth, the Empire Center filed suit against the Health Department under the Freedom of Information Law—and after months of pressure and a court order, the Cuomo Administration finally unsealed the hidden numbers, which were substantially higher than previously known.

This is a powerful acknowledgement of the importance of having access to information and for holding government accountable, not just for New Yorkers, but for all Americans.

The Empire Center’s determination to obtain the data exposed the Cuomo Administration’s attempt to hide the true impact of COVID-19 on nursing home residents. And thanks to that work, New York lawmakers have already advanced legislation to increase transparency—a very important step to ensuring a coverup of this scale can not happen again.

The winner of the Bob Williams award will be determined by popular vote, which can be accessed here.

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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.

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