The Cuomo administration on Friday announced that, as of Wednesday, 2,690 nursing home residents across New York state have died as a result of the new coronavirus. With a total population of about 95,000, that amounts to 1 in 35 of them.
For the first time, the state released a list identifying elder care facilities that have had at least five residents die. At least five of the nursing homes have had more than 40 deaths each, all of them in New York City.
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The Cobble Hill Health Center is the nursing home reporting the most deaths in New York state. It said Friday that, as of Wednesday, 55 residents have died, most likely from the coronavirus.
“The virus is just moving through and folks on every wing in every couple of rooms are dying,” Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander said. “It’s just like the worst nightmare you could possibly have."
With 364 beds, that’s nearly 1 in 6 residents, or 15 percent. But the facility issued a statement that reads, "Because Covid-19 testing in skilled nursing facilities has been extremely difficult to obtain ... Published lists of deaths in skilled nursing facilities are inaccurate and based on subjective criteria.”
The accounting of nursing home deaths was the most detailed yet by the Cuomo administration, following weeks of heartbreaking reports that some facilities were seeing a large number of fatalities.
"The virus is very good at killing and the virus is very good at killing older people and people with compromised immune systems,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “That’s why the virus seeks out nursing homes.”
The list appeared incomplete, as some facilities, reported to have large numbers of deaths, were not included.
After the Cobble Hill Health Center, four more homes, in the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, were listed as having at least 40 deaths.
Kings Harbor Multicare Center in the Bronx reports 45 deaths, about 6 percent of its beds.
The medical director told NY1 he opened two COVID-19 units under a state mandate requiring facilities like his to take hospital patients who do not need ventilator support. He said some of them died, inflating his numbers.
He added, “We are following all CDC and Department of Health recommendations and regulations, and are in constant communication with our residents’ families and loved ones.”
At the Carmel Richmond Health Care and Rehab Center on Staten Island, 44 people have died. It’s part of the Archdiocese of New York’s ArchCare system.
ArchCare says it still tests for COVID-19 even after new government guidelines allowed nursing homes to stop. As a result, ArchCare says "Carmel Richmond and other ArchCare facilities appear to have had more deaths than facilities that have done little or no testing.”
44 people have also died at the 300-bed Franklin Center For Rehabilitation and Nursing in Queens. Its lawyer says its residents are more frail than at most other homes.
“I’d like to see a breakdown of the total number of people that might have passed away that might not have been attributed to COVID-19,” Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim said. “I think we need more details.”
Kim worries the numbers might be generally underreported at nursing homes.
Officials say the numbers very well might be larger and will grow. At this point, the state depends on the nursing homes self reporting.
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