New York’s new governor said Wednesday that the state’s Covid-19 death toll now aligns with the count from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after the state added nearly 12,000 deaths that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration didn’t officially tally.
The announcement by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul means that New York’s Covid-19 death toll is now at 55,395, a significant jump from the tally under Cuomo, who left office in disgrace earlier this week.
The nearly 12,000 deaths are not new, but Cuomo’s administration had tallied deaths from an internal reporting system that accounted only for hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities. It did not factor death certificate data submitted to the CDC, which included deaths in any location, including at home.
“As of yesterday, we’re using CDC numbers, which’ll be consistent. So there’s no opportunity for us to mask those numbers, nor do I want to mask those numbers,” Hochul told NPR on Wednesday. “The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what’s happening.”
The decision by Hochul, who served as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor before being sworn in early Tuesday, is an early sign of her stated commitment to transparency as the new governor of the state, which had been the US epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.
Hochul’s office said in a statement Tuesday that the new death toll is calculated from “provisional death certificate data reported by (the New York State Department of Health) and NYC to the CDC (and) includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings.”
The state dashboard now offers both numbers — the one from New York’s internal Health Electronic Response Data System, as well as the CDC’s figure — to give New Yorkers a fuller picture of the public health situation, Hochul told NPR.
Cuomo, who along with his administration has been widely criticized for Covid-19 death toll calculations, reported 43,404 total Covid-19 deaths on Monday during his final hours as governor.
The governor resigned from office facing the looming threat of impeachment proceedings in the state legislature. Cuomo’s health department also came under scrutiny earlier this year for underreporting Covid-19-related deaths in nursing homes by approximately 50%, the state attorney general’s office found.