AP: It Looks Like Cuomo is Heavily Manipulating Nursing Home Death Statistics to Hide His Failures

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Posted: Aug 12, 2020 10:25 AM
AP: It Looks Like Cuomo is Heavily Manipulating Nursing Home Death Statistics to Hide His Failures

A few days ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that he sees no reason for an independent probe into his state's handling of the Coronavirus crisis -- and specifically, his lethal policy involving nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  Cuomo once again chalked up criticism of New York's worst-in-the-nation-by-far performance (based on total deaths) to pure politics.  This is projection.  Regular readers are well aware that Cuomo's devastating nursing home mandates contributed to thousands of deaths, that the disastrous policy remained in place for week after deadly week, that it was scrubbed from the state's website after it was belatedly reversed, and that the numbers have been intentionally manipulated to downplay the scope of the carnage.  

But many Americans are unaware of any of this, and Cuomo is doing everything he can to promulgate and reinforce that ignorance.  He's embarked upon something of a 'victory tour' to lecture more benighted states (with far better data than New York's) about how to properly handle the pandemic, during which he's made demands about mask mandates while shirking his own rules.  He'll likely continue his self-serving gaslighting during his scheduled speech for the largely-virtual Democratic National Convention.  So he'd better hope that people miss or ignore this Associated Press story, which confirms a Daily Caller report filed weeks ago, but could have farther reach:

Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx appears, on paper, to have escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, with an official state count of just four deaths in its 146-bed facility. The truth, according to the home, is far worse: 21 dead, most transported to hospitals before they succumbed. “It was a cascading effect,” administrator Emil Fuzayov recalled. “One after the other.” New York’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, already among the highest in the nation, could actually be a significant undercount. Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there...That statistic could add thousands to the state’s official care home death toll of just over 6,600. But so far the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to divulge the number, leading to speculation the state is manipulating the figures to make it appear it is doing a better than other states and to make a tragic situation less dire.

How big a difference could it make? Since May, federal regulators have required nursing homes to submit data on coronavirus deaths each week, whether or not residents died in the facility or at a hospital. Because the requirement came after the height of New York’s outbreak, the available data is relatively small. According to the federal data, roughly a fifth of the state’s homes reported resident deaths from early June to mid July — a tally of 323 dead, 65 percent higher than the state’s count of 195 during that time period. Even if half that undercount had held true from the start of the pandemic, that would translate into thousands more nursing home resident deaths than the state has acknowledged. Another group of numbers also suggests an undercount. State health department surveys show 21,000 nursing home beds are lying empty this year, 13,000 more than expected — an increase of almost double the official state nursing home death tally.

The initial lethal policy is a scandal. Cuomo's aggressive manipulation of the numbers by fudging the numbers is a further scandal that acknowledges the original debacle by attempting to obscure it.  In a similar vein, Fox News meteorologist -- who lost both of her in-laws to COVID in New York LTC facilities, one of whom doesn't "count" under the bogus tallying rules -- was abruptly denied access to testify at a Democrat-controlled hearing on this matter.  Please recall that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose outcomes have been much better than Cuomo's, even in a state with millions more residents, and far more vulnerable senior citizens, has been raked over the coals by the media.  It was widely reported that he was hiding data and shading the truth for political reasons, which was a lie.  Andrew Cuomo is actually doing what DeSantis was accused of, and he's doing so in such a brazen fashion that he's even disputing his own state's official data in order to downplay his failures:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his own Health Department are at odds over how many New Yorkers have died from the coronavirus. The governor on Wednesday reported 25,179 COVID-related fatalities in New York State. But the state Health Department said in issuing an emergency directive on Wednesday that more than 32,000 Empire State residents have died from the killer bug. The higher figure would boost the COVID-19 death count in the Empire State by 28 percent. The Health Department cited the higher death count in an official government publication, the New York State Register. “With over 412,000 confirmed cases and over 32,000 deaths, as of July 13, 2020, which accounts for approximately 22 percent of all deaths nationwide, New York state is currently the most impacted state in the nation,” the Health Department said in issuing an emergency regulation that requires hospitals to stockpile at least a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment. Cuomo cited the lower 25,179 figure in a press release – as did the COVID-tracker link on the Health Department’s website.

Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who's presided over the nation's worst death rate, is also facing criticism (including from his predecessor) about a deadly policy that forced COVID-positive residents into nursing homes.  He's pushing back with all sorts of explanations, but his administration's order on the matter speaks for itself:


I strongly recommend this excellent Wall Street Journal column by Gerard Baker, entitled, "untangling the media myths of COVID-19."  One relevant portion:

Even less forgivable is the naked, politically motivated selective use and manipulation of data to damage Republicans and favor Democrats. Typical of this is the steady stream of stories telling us what a great job New York and other (Democrat-controlled) Northeastern states have been doing in managing the spread of the virus, in contrast with the performance of other (Republican-led) states. This is, literally, the opposite of the reality. You probably don’t need reminding that New York continues to enjoy the dubious record of one of the highest death rates of any region in the entire world. Far from “flattening the curve,” New York, again, did precisely the opposite. It suffered a barely fathomable surge in deaths that overwhelmed much of the state’s medical capacity....We should not fall into the media’s trap of tendentiously asserting a tight link between politics and the virus. But insofar as policy has some effect, it is worth noting that of the 10 states (and the District of Columbia) with the highest death rates, eight have Democratic governments...As we stand, the states that have come closest to achieving this balance are the ones that continue to be denounced in the media: Florida and Texas. Their death rates are below those of similarly populous coastal states, and while deaths continue to rise, it seems that the virus has peaked for now. Florida and Texas have also been among the most successful in keeping their economies from collapsing.

It requires unaccountable shamelessness for a politician in Cuomo's position to not only evade significant blame for his own policies, but to spike the failure football as if his spin were reality. It similarly requires unaccountable shamelessness from many in the New York press for this stunningly cynical performance to be allowed to succeed. And it once again requires unaccountable shamelessness from many in the national media for accurate charts like these to exist, and for legions of news consumers to draw the exact opposite conclusions about which states should be considered relative success stories: