New York state under new Governor Kathy Hochul (D) has added 12,000 COVID deaths to its total following the exit of Andrew Cuomo, who resigned as governor last week amid sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo had reported aboout 43,400 deaths across the state on his last day in office August 16, but Hockul said the total is actually 55,400 according to death certificate data submitted to the CDC.
She said that Cuomo had used different reporting methods than the CDC. Cuomo only reported deaths associated with lab results, and did not include deaths at home, in state prisons, in hospice care, and probable deaths.
Hockul said she was committed to transparency and that the public deserved to know the real numbers of deaths and probable deaths in the state. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard now reports both sets of numbers.
“People should know”
“There are presumed and confirmed deaths. People should know both,” Hochul said. “Also, as of yesterday, we’re using CDC numbers, which will be consistent, and so there’s no opportunity for us to mask those numbers, nor do I want to mask those numbers. The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what’s happening. That’s whether it’s good or bad.”
Hochul has no vested interest in making death counts appear lower, since she did not bear responsibility for Cuomo’s order to send COVID-positive residents back into facilities during the first months of the pandemic.
She also didn’t receive an Emmy award for her COVID briefings or write a book lauding her response to the pandemic, as Cuomo did.
Besides undercounting overall deaths from the virus in New York, a state attorney general report found that Cuomo likely undercounted nursing home deaths by at least 50% by not including nursing home residents who died in hospitals in his count.
The report found that most nursing home COVID deaths occurred in hospitals and were not counted as nursing home deaths.
Janice Dean celebrates
A small but vocal group had been pressuring state officials to investigate whether Cuomo was covering up nursing home deaths, including Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who lost both of her parents in-law to COVID in nursing homes in March 2020.
Dean celebrated Cuomo’s resignation but said the investigations should continue. She pointed to reports that Cuomo illegally used state resources to write his book, for which he received a $5.1 million advance.
“While Cuomo may be packing up his U-Haul, he has left a tremendous amount of baggage for his successor incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul to deal with,” Dean wrote in a Fox News op-ed on the governor’s last day in office.