New York Governor Releases Report to Show His Nursing Home Admissions Policy Not Linked to Increased Nursing Homes Deaths

We have previously discussed the heightened criticism of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to that criticism, on, New York Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker released a report on July 6, 2020 by the New York State Department of Health entitled, “Factors Associated with Nursing Home Infections and Fatalities in New York State During the COVID-19 Global Health Crisis.” The full report is available here.

The report states the March 25 admission policy requiring nursing homes to admit or re-admit a COVID-positive patient was not linked to an increase in nursing home deaths in New York. Instead, the report concludes that staff and visitors to nursing homes likely caused the spread of the virus to nursing home residents.

According to the report, between March 25 and May 8 in New York there were 6,326 patients admitted from hospitals to 310 different nursing homes. Of the 310 nursing homes, 252 already had cases of COVID-positive patients.

The report states the peak of nursing home fatalities was April 8, 2020. Because the average length of time between infections and death is 18 to 25 days, the report concludes the April 8 date is too early to show that the March 25 admissions policy was related. The report noted the average hospitalization for a nursing home resident to be admitted or re-admitted after a hospitalization was 9 days. Because most patients with COVID are most contagious 2 days before becoming symptomatic and are no longer contagious 9 days after contracting the virus, the report concludes “by the time these patients were admitted to a nursing home after their hospital stay, they were no longer contagious.”

The report states it was likely that thousands of nursing home employees that were infected in March could have transmitted the virus and that other contributing factors included spread from family members and visitors. Notably, visitation at nursing homes was banned on March 13, 2020.

Overall, the report concludes that data suggests that nursing home quality is not a factor in mortality from COVID, that Gov. Cuomo’s March 25 admission policy was not a significant factor in NY fatalities, and that employee infections were related to the large community spread and employee transmission has strongest correlation to nursing home fatalities.

In his July 6 press conference, Gov. Cuomo also noted that in the last seven weeks of re-opening in New York, the number of coronavirus cases have continued to decline. However, he noted that due to concerns over airborne transmission of the disease, he stressed that people need to be vigilant about complying with his executive order on masks and face coverings.

The issue of nursing home fatalities related to Gov. Cuomo’s March 25 admissions policy has become highly political with critics calling for an investigation and Gov. Cuomo never conceding he or his admiration made an error regarding the nursing home admissions policy. This new report by the Department of Health will likely be discussed in detail by political pundits.

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