The state of New York has not counted thousands of deaths from covid-19 registered in nursing homes , which could be up to 50% more than the official ones, according to a report presented today by the attorney general, Letitia James, reports EFE .
The state government places deaths in residences at more than 8,500, but James’ investigation points out that the number could actually be much higher and denounces that several of these establishments did not comply with basic measures to stop contagion.
“Although we cannot bring back those we lost in this crisis, this report seeks to offer the transparency that the public deserves and spur more action to protect our most vulnerable residents,” the attorney general said in a statement.
Almost from the beginning of the pandemic, some voices have accused Andrew Cuomo’s state government of having aggravated the crisis in nursing homes with some measures, such as a directive in March that ordered these establishments to accept patients positive for coronavirus .
Cuomo has always denied that responsibility, but the report by James – a Democrat like the governor – once again adds fuel to the fire.
After receiving complaints, the Attorney General’s Office has investigated the situation in more than 20 residences in the state and, according to its first conclusions, it seems clear that more people died in these establishments from COVID-19 than those listed in the official count.
The main factor seems to be that the State did not count as cases in nursing homes those of many residents who ended up dying in hospitals, although the report also points out that in some instances all the deaths that took place in the centers themselves were not included either.
The research concludes that the official death toll of nursing home residents appears to be about 50% lower than the actual figure, based on an extrapolation of data obtained from 62 residences (10% of the state total).
The report, in any case, does not increase the total number of deaths in New York, since it is considered that these deaths do appear in the general calculation, despite not being attributed to nursing homes.
According to the independent count from Johns Hopkins University, at least 42,887 people have died so far in New York from covid-19, while state government figures – which only take into account confirmed cases – put the balance at almost 35,000 .
New York, which was the great epicenter of the coronavirus in the US last spring, is the state with the most deaths , followed by California and Texas (which have much more population) with 38,828 and 35,889 deaths respectively, according to Johns Hopkins.
The investigation by the Attorney General’s Office also denounces that some centers did not adequately comply with basic measures to stop contagions, by not doing adequate isolation of the sick, not testing workers or forcing employees positive for coronavirus to continue working.
As examples, the Prosecutor’s Office indicates that it received complaints that a nursing home in the Big Apple kept residents who had tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus mixed with the rest for months, as it had not yet created a separate unit for they.
In another Long Island facility, meanwhile, patients transferred after passing through the hospital with coronavirus were allegedly distributed around the residence, despite the fact that there were beds available in their covid-19 unit.
The document indicates that, despite these facts, it is not clear that the companies that operate the residences or individuals with responsibilities can be brought to justice, given that due to the pandemic New York changed laws to give immunity to the health sector against possible Lawsuits for the management of covid-19.
In that sense, James recommended that these modifications, approved by Cuomo last March, be eliminated.
“As the pandemic and our investigation continue, it is imperative that we understand why New York’s nursing home residents suffered unnecessarily at such an alarming rate,” the prosecutor noted.
For its part, the New York Health Department downplayed the report commissioned by Letitia James, underlining that the only difference between the numbers of the Prosecutor’s Office and those published by the authorities lies in where the elderly died, but that the total death toll by coronavirus in New York does not change.
“The Attorney General’s Office only refers to the number of people who were in residences but were transferred to hospitals and later died. (James) suggests that all should be counted as deaths in residences and not in hospitals despite the fact that who died in hospitals.
That does not change the total number of deaths, “says a statement sent to the press on behalf of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.