The death toll in New York’s long-term care facilities jumped by another 1,516 this weekend as the Cuomo administration adjusted its reporting on adult-care facilities to include residents who died after being transferred to hospitals.

The newly disclosed deaths represented an almost eight-fold increase for assisted living and other adult-care facilities, which provide non-medical services for their elderly and disabled residents.

When combined with the recently revealed count of nursing home residents who died in hospitals, the publicly reported toll in New York’s long-term care facilities had increased by almost 5,800, or 63 percent, over the past 10 days (see table).

The Cuomo administration stresses that its new accounting of long-term care residents who died in hospitals does not represent a change in the state’s overall death toll.

Source: New York State Department of Health

The Health Department’s data on long-term care deaths had previously omitted residents who were sent to hospitals before passing away, a practice used by no other state. Officials had refused to share the full count in spite of months of queries from legislators and the media and a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Empire Center. 

The department has recently begun disclosing those numbers in response to a critical report from the attorney general’s office and a court ruling in favor of Empire Center’s suit.

The additional data posted this weekend—broken into separate reports for assisted living facilities and other adult-care facilities—give a fuller picture of the pandemic’s overall impact, but fall far short of what the court ordered the department to release.

The Empire Center requested death counts for each day and in each facility, as the state has been collecting them throughout the pandemic. Among other things, these numbers would allow a closer analysis of the impact of the Health Department’s March 25 policy memo compelling nursing homes to admit coronavirus-positive patients.

So far, the department has provided only cumulative totals for each facility.

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

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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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