Supreme Court orders NYS Department of Health to release nursing home COVID death records

A state judge has ordered New York’s Department of Health to release records about nursing home residents who died of COVID-19.

Posted: Feb 3, 2021 6:16 PM
Updated: Feb 9, 2021 5:58 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A state judge has ordered New York’s Department of Health to release records about nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 in hospitals, after ruling in favor of Sen. Jim Tedisco, who filed a lawsuit to obtain the data.

Tedisco believes less people would have died if Cuomo did not order nursing homes to allow residents recovering from COVID back to the facilities.

"He's gone through contortions as you know with that March executive direction to say 'hey, we cant discriminate against those who have COVID,' you have to put them into a nursing home with individuals that may be compromised but probably would be alive today if they didn't intermingle with those individuals who were put in there with COVID," said Tedisco.

The judge on Wednesday said the health department's failure to do provide the data was already a “violation” of New York’s open government law.

The order comes just a week after a report by Attorney General Letitia James' office showed nursing home deaths in the state could have been undercounted by as much as 50%.

NYS Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker said the data categorized deaths by location, so if a nursing home resident died in a hospital, it wasn't listed as a 'nursing home death.'

Tedisco says he wants to see the more detailed data to determine where outbreaks may have originated. He and Empire Center filed the suit.

"He's gotten to the point now where he's saying if you died in a nursing home - it's a nursing home death, if you died in the hospital it's a hospital death. We know there's a big difference in what he is trying to put forward to us," said Tedisco. "The purpose and importance of understanding who died in the hospital is not that they lost their lives in a hospital - the hospital's didnt destroy their lives, it's where the contagion was generated and that was in the nursing homes."

The Department of Health had argued that it needed months to compile records about long-term care residents who died at hospitals.

But the judge noted nursing homes have to file daily reports of all residents who die from COVID-19, regardless of where they died.

The judge ordered the Department of Health to release the information within five business days.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2083623

Reported Deaths: 52914
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings27718310311
Queens2740339845
Suffolk1994113379
Nassau1822533161
Bronx1812316529
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Oneida22251505
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Saratoga15113166
Ulster13762251
Schenectady12988200
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Putnam1053991
Chautauqua8807141
Chemung7554135
Oswego743690
Ontario729992
Steuben6775143
Sullivan654972
St. Lawrence650796
Cayuga621492
Jefferson593166
Wayne565067
Cattaraugus560087
Genesee5348123
Herkimer5102107
Clinton480333
Madison447188
Livingston437158
Fulton433891
Tompkins424151
Montgomery4203123
Columbia4008101
Cortland375660
Tioga369562
Warren358557
Wyoming351152
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Otsego340047
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Washington308555
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Lewis270734
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