New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Health Department are still failing to deliver on months’ old promises to release the true tally of nursing home residents killed by COVID. The fact that some seeking the data have political motives is no excuse for stonewalling.
The official nursing home toll stands near 6,700 New Yorkers. But that only includes residents who died inside nursing homes, not the potentially thousands more who died after being transferred to hospitals.
The missing figures haven’t made legitimate questions disappear. Instead, the stalling only damages the credibility Cuomo and state health officials earned by capably handling the virus. Cuomo’s mantra-like repetition that New York ranks low among states in nursing home deaths as a share of total deaths, when he well knows that a fuller death count could change that statistic, is disappointingly disingenuous.
The secrecy is also a gift to his political foes.
Donald Trump’s Justice Department, fully weaponized by an unscrupulous president, in August asked New York and three other Democrat-led states for nursing home death data, despite the fact that other GOP-led states, like Arizona, had similar policies and experienced similar nursing home death rates. But DOJ’s initial inquiry limited their investigation’s scope to locally or state-run facilities, which make up only 7% of New York’s nursing homes.
Last week, Trump’s DOJ tried again, with a new tack — seeking nursing home death data from private and publicly run facilities, under the guise of investigating False Claims Act violations.
We strongly suspect this probe too is fruit of a poisonous tree — a president who’s declared war on New York and recklessly endangered millions of lives with his egregiously negligent response to the pandemic.
But the longer Cuomo ducks, the more ammo he gives them. If data is king, governor, release the numbers.
©2020 New York Daily News