Former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)
Credit: Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration purposely manipulated nursing home COVID-19 data in order to mislead the public, an audit by the state comptroller’s office has found. 

The report found that the state Health Department understated the number of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50%. Nursing homes themselves have not been accused of any wrongdoing with regard to the issues raised in the report.

The analysis, which was released Tuesday, also found that from April 12, 2020, to Feb. 3, 2021, the department frequently changed its basis for the public reporting of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes “with virtually no explanation publicly as to why it changed.” Those changes included reporting only resident deaths that occurred at the nursing home versus reporting all deaths regardless of where they occurred, such as at a hospital.

“All told, for the nearly 10-month period from April 2020 to February 2021, the department failed to account for approximately 4,100 lives lost due to COVID-19,” the audit stated. 

Top New York state and health officials faced investigations last year after an aide to Cuomo revealed the state lied about nursing home coronavirus deaths out of fear the data would be used against them.

The state comptroller’s office recommendations to the department included developing and implementing policies that improve the quality of publicly reported data and expanding the use of infection control and nursing home survey data. 

“The pandemic is not over, and I am hopeful the current administration will make changes to improve accountability and protect lives,” said New York state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in a statement Tuesday. 

“An important step would be for DOH to provide the families who lost loved ones with answers as to the actual number of nursing homes residents who died,” he added.