New York Confirms Another 1,700 Unreported Nursing Home Deaths Caused By COVID-19
Yesterday, Gov. Cuomo was urging local officials across his state to start preparing for the reopening on May 15. On Tuesday, state health officials reported another 1,700 previously unreported deaths from America’s nursing homes and adult-care facilities.
The revision follows a similar update made by NYC officials last month when they confirmed an additional 3,000+ COVID-19-linked deaths, including those who died at home and at nursing homes rather than in a hospital setting. According to Bloomberg, NYS and Gov. Cuomo are facing “scrutiny” over the state’s handling of the outbreak.
At least 4,813 people have died from COVID-19 at state-regulated nursing homes since March 1, according to the new tally which includes patients who were killed before they could be confirmed in a lab.
Cuomo himself has said that if he could do one thing over, he would have taken more steps to protect the most vulnerable populations, including groups of elderly patients in nursing homes. Whether this updated list represents a complete accounting of nursing home deaths remains unclear; many critics suspect that thousands of deaths among managed-care patients likely haven’t been reported.
The revised list shows that 22 nursing homes, largely in NYC and Long Island, have reported at least 40 deaths each. Parker Jewish Institute in Queens and Isabella Geriatric Center, one of NYC’s largest nursing homes with 705 beds, have reported the highest number of deaths: 71 and 64, respectively. Previously, Isabella showed just 13 deaths as of May 1. It now has 43 patients believed to have probably succumbed to COVID-19. Ozanam Hall of Queens now is reporting a total of 53 deaths, up from just 10.
Among the hardest-hit Veterans Homes, the Long Island State Veterans Home has reported 53 deaths, including 48 confirmed and five presumed COVID-19 deaths. The New York State Veterans Home at St. Albans in Queens has reported 33 deaths while New York State Veterans Home at Montrose in Westchester says 22 residents have died.
By now, the horrors of a COVID-19 outbreak inside a nursing home have become shockingly familiar. And unfortunately, a state policy in effect in New York and elsewhere requiring sick patients to be moved back to their nursing homes – despite likely being infected with the virus and well-positioned to spread it to all their fellow patients.
The state’s March 25 policy reads: “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”
Cuomo has for some insane reason tried to defend this policy, saying it was intended to ensure that home residents weren’t left “lingering” in hospitals without anywhere to go. Cuomo’s spokesman tweeted Monday that the policy follows federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance, but as Bloomberg pointed out, the federal guidance says only that a nursing home “can accept a resident diagnosed with COVID-19”” so long as other federal transmission precautions can absolutely be followed.
We suspect that in many New York nursing homes, that probably wasn’t possible – and the state should have known better.
And amazingly, Democratic officials are trying to protect the same policy in California, according to the Mercury News.