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NY audit backs funding of undercounted nursing-home deaths

(Bloomberg) — The New York Department of Health reduced the number of nursing-home deaths by 50% during certain periods of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an audit released Tuesday, thanks to faulty data collection. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration was criticized. and misleading statistics.

All told, at least 4,100 nursing-home deaths were not accounted for from April 2020 to February 2021, the state comptroller’s audit shows. The findings confirm the state’s earlier reports of skewing data, including one from 2021 conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The controller’s audit found that the health department failed to properly analyze the data and that it was not consistent with the way it had reported deaths. Meanwhile, Cuomo’s office regularly reported inaccurate figures, “raising the perception of New York’s performance against other states,” the report alleged.

At the time, the governor had become a national figure in his handling of the pandemic, building up his public profile through regular press conferences and eventually inking a $5.1 million book deal in 2020 about navigating the crisis.

Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli said in a statement Tuesday: “While the people of New York were entitled to the truth, the public was misled by distorting facts and those at the highest levels of state government.”

According to Dinapoli’s office, about 14,000 nursing-home residents died of COVID-19 between March 2020 and the start of the pandemic in May 2021.

The audit comes as Cuomo seeks to re-enter public life, and possibly run for public office, following his resignation in August 2021 after an investigation into James’s office found he sexually assaulted several women. including many state employees. Cuomo has bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of digital and television ads in recent weeks, in an effort to clear his name.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Ezzopardi linked the timing of the Dinapoli report to politics.

Azzopardi said, “Since the number of deaths reported out of the facility last January, this is not news, although what is strange is it is now releasing this audit – but no one has blamed them for being above politics.” not charged.”

James said in a statement that he is “grateful to Comptroller DiNapoli for bringing much-needed transparency to this important issue.”

© 2022 Bloomberg LP

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