More than 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients in New York were released from hospitals into nursing homes during the early days of the pandemic, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
According to documents obtained by the AP, 9,056 patients were released to nursing homes under a directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office (D) that was later done away with due to criticism that it accelerated outbreaks of the virus.
The new number reported by the AP is 40 percent higher than what had previously been released by the state’s health department, the outlet notes.
“The lack of transparency and the meting out of bits of important data has undermined our ability to both recognize the scope and severity of what’s going on,” said Richard Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, which advocates for residents in care facilities.
The report comes as people have begun to question whether a March 25 directive — which prohibited nursing homes from refusing people who had COVID-19 — helped in spreading the virus.
New York’s Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report in late January that found Cuomo’s administration had undercounted the amount of nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent. Cuomo has been criticized for obscuring the true count of nursing home deaths as New York only counted residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transferred to hospitals, which according to James’s report, was the majority.
New York House GOP lawmakers last week sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting that it subpoena Cuomo over New York's treatment of nursing homes during the pandemic. The delegation, led by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), requested in its letter that the DOJ also subpoena "the Secretary to the Governor, the New York State Commissioner of Health and their staff on all documentation and communications related to their nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic."
New York has reported over 45,000 COVID-19 deaths so far, and more than 1.5 million cases.