As of this week, New York’s COVID deaths sit at around 43,000, which would mark the third-worst casualty count of any state. The federal tally, however, clocks New York’s deaths at around 54,000, trailing only California’s 64,000 deaths — a state with double the population.
According to an Associated Press review of New York State Department of Health data, the discrepancy grew this year by 3,200 deaths — amid three probes into allegations that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration altered documents on nursing-home deaths in June to hide the real toll caused by a controversial decision made by his office in March 2020.
“It’s a little strange,” Bob Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, told the AP. “They’re providing us with the death-certificate information so they have it. I don’t know why they wouldn’t use those numbers.”
The Cuomo administration’s statistic only includes lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths at hospitals, nursing homes, and adult-care facilities, thereby excluding people who died at home, in hospice, in state prisons, or state-run homes for people living with disabilities. It also does not include likely coronavirus deaths of residents who died without accessing a COVID test in the early months of the pandemic, when New York City was the global epicenter. New York City statistics suggest at least 5,000 additional residents died from the virus without getting tested.
As the AP notes, state death counts are normally higher than CDC numbers, as the agency must wait for the data to be reported up to them. “The Feds are always going to be behind,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director at the American Public Health Association. “They’ve got to do their due diligence to validate their numbers they’ve got.” States including California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have reported their deaths as recommended by the agency, including all deaths where COVID is a direct factor.