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Judge orders NYS Health Department to hand over COVID nursing home death data

Feb 04, 2021 1:00 pm

Denis Slattery is reporting for The Daily News state Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor has ordered state health officials to release detailed data on nursing home COVID deaths, siding with the conservative Empire Center in her ruling. In the February 3 decision, O’Connor found that the state Health Department violated the law by not handing over the records in a timely response to a Freedom of Information Law request filed last August. “We hope Justice O’Connor’s unequivocal ruling finally pushes the Cuomo administration to do the right thing,” said Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Empire Center. “The people of New York — especially those who have lost loved ones in nursing homes — have waited much too long to see this clearly public information about one of the worst disasters in state history.” The order mandated the state turn over the information within five business days and to pay the Center’s legal fees, as well. The decision comes less than a week after a report was released by Attorney General Letitia James alleging the number of nursing home deaths was undercounted by 50 percent. In its FOIL request, the Empire Center asked for the total number of nursing home deaths statewide, the number of deaths recorded on each date and the number of deaths recorded in each nursing home or assisted living facility. A Health Department spokesperson said Wednesday, O'Connor's ruling made little difference since the information was already forthcoming. Read the full story at MSN [dot] com.