It’s finally happening. The local New York media is finally calling out and even hammering New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for his atrocious “COVID nursing home” scandal.
Bill Hammond, who leads up a government health policy watchdog group is leading the charge and is claiming that Cuomo is likely “fudging” and downplaying the already high nursing home deaths in order to avoid more public outrage.
Bill Hammond says New York State is misrepresenting the number of COVID-19 deaths that have happened in nursing homes during this pandemic.
“The State has been counting nursing home deaths in an unusual way,” he said.
Hammond is Senior Fellow for Health Policy at The Empire Center for Public Policy, a self-described “government watchdog group” in Albany. He spoke to CBS 6’s Anne McCloy about his recent report analyzing numbers surrounding the nursing home debacle.
Hammond says the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is only releasing the number of deaths that occurred within the four walls of the nursing home, and is not including deaths at hospitals. So, Hammond pulled different numbers, instead analyzing the number of empty beds, or vacancies.
“A 13-point difference means there are 13,000 normally there who aren’t there,” Hammond said.
NYSDOH has the death rate from nursing homes at about 6,500, but with the vacancy rate at 13,000, Hammond says the death count is likely much higher. The agency did not provide CBS 6 the number of nursing home deaths from hospitals.
Hammond believes the State has been reluctant to release the numbers because of potential political fallout.
“If they revise their death count and it goes up by as many as I think it will go up, it’s not going to be a good news story and it won’t be a flattering news story,” Hammond said.
Hammond says Cuomo has handled this entire scandal wrong by dismissing all questions and criticism as a “political conspiracy.”
“The importance of discussing this and getting the true facts out is to understand what did and didn’t happen so we can learn from it in case this happens again,” Hammond said.
State lawmakers will be holding public hearings into the State’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic shortly.
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