CNA Staff, Aug 12, 2020 / 11:10 am
Official figures from New York state likely under-represent the real number of nursing home residents who died as a result of COVID-19, according to a new report on Tuesday.
Officially, New York claims to have lost 6,600 nursing home residents to COVID-19, which would be just over 20% of the state’s total deaths. In neighboring New Jersey, nursing home residents account for 44% of the state’s total death toll, and in Pennsylvania, that figure rises to 68% of the total number of COVID-19 deaths.
Unlike other states, New York only tallies nursing home deaths from COVID-19 if they actually occurred in a nursing home. A resident of a nursing home who died from COVID-19 after being transported to a hospital for intensive care would not be considered a nursing home death in New York.
In an August 12 report by Associated Press, the New York statistics do not appear to tally either with regional patterns or with the current occupancy rates in nursing homes.
Geriatrics expert Thomas Perls told AP that the numbers given by New York do not make sense: “Whatever the cause, there is no way New York could be truly at 20%,” Perls said.
If New York’s nursing home death percentage were the same as New Jersey, over 14,000 nursing home residents would have died from COVID-19. If it were the same as Pennsylvania, the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 would rise to 22,012.
According to the AP report, there are 21,000 empty nursing home beds in New York state this year. That number is 13,000 higher than the expected vacancy rate.
While some of the “missing” nursing home patients were removed from nursing homes by concerned relatives, or died from other causes, the AP report suggests that it is likely some if not many of these “missing” patients died from COVID-19 but were not counted in state figures.