New York was ‘unprepared’ to respond to COVID-19, audit shows
New York was ‘unprepared’ to respond to COVID-19, audit shows

New York was ‘unprepared’ to respond to COVID-19, audit shows

NEW YORK (PIX11) – Results released by the New York State Comptroller’s Office show that the state was “unprepared to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases in nursing homes, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York.”

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said a “persistent lack of funding” forced the health ministry to operate without resources that could have limited the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. DiNapoli and his auditors also found that the Ministry of Health falsified COVID-19 deaths and “was involved in the undercounting of these deaths as [Gov. Andrew Cuomo] took control of information provided to the public. Counting deaths in nursing homes was one of the scandals which caused Cuomo to resign.

“The pandemic was devastating and deadly for New Yorkers living in nursing homes. Families have a right to know if their loved one’s COVID-19 death was counted, but many still have no response from the state Department of Health,” DiNapoli said. “Our audit findings are extremely worrying. The public was misled by those at the highest level of state government through distortion and repression of facts when New Yorkers deserved the truth.”

The audit results released by DiNapolis’ office show that COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes were underestimated by at least 4,100 and at times were 50% lower than they should have been. Cuomo was accused of “routinely” reporting incorrect data, “inflating the perception of New York’s performance toward other states.”

The New York Department of Health was also slow to respond to federal directives, according to the inspector’s office. Only 20% of state nursing homes were surveyed between March 23 and May 30, 2020; in other states, more than 90% of similar facilities were surveyed. The Ministry of Health issued 602 violations on the basis of the investigations carried out, but 60% of these cases showed no signs of ever being resolved.

According to the DiNapolis office, many of the health ministry’s shortcomings were present before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it “was never followed up … which may have limited its ability to respond to the COVID-19 nursing home crisis.”

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