Statement from Bill Hammond, Empire Center senior fellow for health policy, in response to the Health Department’s comments on the Empire Center’s report, “COVID-positive Admissions Were Correlated with Higher Death Rates in New York Nursing Homes”:

“Unfortunately, instead of learning from devastating policy mistakes, Governor Cuomo’s Health Department continues to misrepresent the truth.

“The salient policy question isn’t whether the March 25th memo introduced COVID into nursing homes, but whether it contributed to higher infection and mortality rates.

“The department’s comments show that it either doesn’t understand statistics, or is willfully ignoring our findings. Our analysis does, in fact, show a consistent relationship between transfers from hospitals to nursing homes and COVID fatalities. These findings were robust to several statistical assumptions.

“Our report included a statewide statistical analysis, which showed that transfers were associated with deaths at the 99 percent confidence level. Those statewide estimates are the ones we used to estimate that transfers were associated with hundreds of additional deaths. In digging a bit deeper, we hypothesized a differential effect upstate and downstate, which was then corroborated by our analysis.

“As explained in the report, the correlation between admissions and mortality was more pronounced upstate than it was statewide. However, when the analysis was restricted to the New York City metro area only, there was no statistically significant correlation.

“It should be pointed out that these comparisons only became possible this month, when the Health Department finally released the relevant data to the public after months of stonewalling. If not for a court order obtained by the Empire Center and the Government Justice Center, New Yorkers would still be waiting for this basic information that the department should have been voluntarily sharing all along.

“In its own report from July, the DOH specifically posed the question: ‘Did admissions increase mortality?’ and then exonerated itself based on cherry-picked data. The newly release numbers suggest otherwise—that admissions were indeed associated with higher mortality

“Empire Center fellow Ian Kingsbury and I performed this research because we wanted to understand as well as possible what actually happened, and why so many of New Yorkers in nursing homes died of this horrible disease. It’s unfortunate that the Cuomo administration would not play a more constructive and collaborative role in this effort.”

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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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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