Lawmakers react to COVID-19 death toll discrepancy
There are shock waves across New York state as Gov. Kathy Hochul began releasing new numbers showing the state death toll from COVID-19 is about 12,000 people higher than previously released.
Hochul said the new COVID-19 death toll numbers of about 55,400 people is in line with the death certificate data provided by the state to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Her predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, gave briefings that included only laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths from hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities. That didn’t account for people who died at home, in hospice, in prisons, or at state-run homes for people with disabilities.
Speaking at the New York State Fair near Syracuse Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Hochul’s announcement is a step in the right direction to create a more transparent Albany.
"I think getting out of the gate and saying, 'By the way, there was a, sadly, an undercount of 12,000,' is very much part of what she intends to do as governor," said Stewart-Cousins.
Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse), who was one of the leaders of the legislature’s hearings on the effect of COVID-19 on nursing homes, is taking her response a step further, calling on State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to resign.
"Honestly, the Commissioner of Health came and gave us misinformation,” said May. “Whether he was misinformed himself or was deliberately misinforming us, either way, it was unacceptable."
Hochul said going forward, her administration will be releasing state COVID-19 death toll numbers that are consistent with the numbers released by the CDC.