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Cuomo admin tracked nursing home deaths months before incomplete DOH report

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The Cuomo administration began tracking COVID-19 related out-of-facility nursing home resident deaths as early as last April — yet still withheld the data from a state Health Department report released nearly three months later, according to a document obtained by The Post.

The state DOH memo sent out to the administrators of nursing homes and adult care facilities directed them to report daily the number of residents who died of COVID-19, including “if the death occurred in” their “facility or the hospital setting.”

A copy of the directive obtained by The Post is dated April 18, 2020 — about eleven weeks before a health department report that excluded the number of nursing home residents who died of coronavirus outside of their facilities.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aides pushed the DOH to omit the out-of-facility nursing resident deaths.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration order to count nursing home COVD-19 deaths was sent out on April 18, 2020.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration order to count nursing home COVD-19 deaths was sent out on April 18, 2020.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The final report, consequently, only included in-facility deaths, painting an incomplete picture of the pandemic’s effect on the state’s most vulnerable population.

State Department of Health spokesman Gary Holmes told The Post in a Wednesday statement that the agency “has received HERDS information daily from more than 1,000 long term care facilities and more than 200 hospitals since the start of this pandemic.”

“In April 2020 we asked for additional information to provide a more specific clinical picture, and as part of that correspondence we asked all facilities to provide that same level of information retrospectively to March 1,” the spokesman said.

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Only after the Journal report did Cuomo’s team admit to withholding data in the public report.

Ambulance workers pickup an elderly man from Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn on April 17, 2020.
Ambulance workers pickup an elderly man from Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn on April 17, 2020.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“The out-of-facility data was omitted after DOH could not confirm it had been adequately verified,” Beth Garvey, special counsel to Cuomo, had said in a statement.

In Wednesday’s statement, Holmes said the DOH “spent months reconciling the information received [from hospitals] – de-duplicating, correcting data entry errors, etc. – in order to understand and report accurate fatality data from multiple sources.”

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At the end of January, the state finally released an accounting of the number of nursing home resident deaths in both nursing homes and hospitals.

Ambulance workers load a patient outside the Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn on April 17, 2020.
Ambulance workers load a patient outside the Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn on April 17, 2020.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

But, the revised figures came after months of stonewalling lawmakers and reporters, a lawsuit from the Empire Center and a damning state attorney general report.

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