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the coronavirus crisis

New York AG: State undercounted nursing home COVID-19 deaths 'by as much as 50 percent'

New York has undercounted the number of nursing home residents who have died from COVID-19 by "as much as 50 percent," according to the state's attorney general.

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday released a 76-page report stemming from investigations conducted by her office, and it alleged that the true number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state is far higher than the over 8,500 that have been reported, The New York Times reports.

"A larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than the New York State Department of Health's (DOH) published nursing home data reflected and may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent," a statement from James' office said.

James' office explained that the data collected suggests "many" nursing home residents died from COVID-19 after being transferred to a hospital, something that wasn't reflected in the official count, and there was also "apparent underreporting" of deaths in nursing homes themselves. For example, one facility reported five confirmed and six presumed COVID-19 deaths, but the actual number was found to be 27 deaths at the facility and 13 hospital deaths.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has faced criticism over the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in the state, as well as for a March memo requiring nursing homes take in patients who tested positive. As the Times notes, the state's Health Department has stated that "most patients admitted to nursing homes from hospitals were no longer contagious when admitted and therefore were not a source of infection."

James' report concluded that "government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk," also placing blame on a "lack of compliance with infection control" at some nursing homes.