NY Releases Data on COVID-19 Deaths at Each Nursing Home

An ambulance leaves the Isabella Center in New York, May 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York State released fatality data for individual nursing homes, painting a much grimmer picture of the toll taken by the COVID-19 virus.

The state’s Department of Health quietly updated its chart of nursing home deaths to include those who died at hospitals as well as in the facilities. The update added more than 4,000 deaths to the state tally as of Thursday.

The Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center had 29 deaths at the home, and another 51 in a hospital.

Information for the Bronxcare Special Care Center had previously showed only eight COVID-19 deaths. But there were 20 additional deaths in the hospital, according to the new data.

At the Boro Park Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, an additional 41 people died in the hospital on top of 32 at the home.

And there were 32 residents of the Parker Jewish Institute for Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Queens who died at the hospital in addition to 83 at the home.

The state Department of Health had refused for months to provide the information until it was forced to by a judge Thursday.

A state judge ordered New York’s Department of Health to release records about nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 in a ruling that said the agency’s failure to do so already was a “violation” of New York’s open government law.

Acting Albany Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor blasted the DOH for claiming it could not produce the data, and ordered the stats released within five days. The Empire Center for Public Policy had sought the information under a Freedom of Information Law request.

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker finally released the total number of nursing home deaths on Jan. 28, putting the figure at 12,743 with the hospital fatalities, instead of 8,740. The disclosure came after Attorney General Letitia James produced a report saying the number of deaths could be as much as 50% higher than officials claimed.

The state has been criticized for early directives that mandated ill-equipped and understaffed nursing homes accept COVID-19 patients, knowing the elderly population was most at risk for the virus.

The total number of deaths puts New York’s fatalities ahead of California’s by about 2,600, the Empire Center found.