This editorial originally ran in the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. We agree with its sentiments:
The discrepancy in the number of deaths from COVID-19 in New York state is disconcerting and shows that politicians will stop at nothing in order to cater to their self-serving interests.
The Associated Press reported that the total figure of COVID-19 deaths the state has claimed is about 11,000 short of what they tell the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state shows a record of about 43,000 COVID-19 deaths, but the federal government shows that about 54,000 people have died from COVID-19.
Why the difference?
One can logically assume that the lower death toll that the state is providing in its distributed materials is to make officials look better.
If that is the case, not only is it an incredible disservice to those who died from COVID-19 and their families, it is a tremendous source of distrust in government.
“We need to make sure we get it right, and people understand what the numbers are. And how we are using them so they can’t be misused by people who have a motive to misuse them,” Georges Benjamin, a physician and executive director at the American Public Health Association, said in the AP story.
He’s exactly right.
We have known government to be misleading on many issues in our lifetime, but when it comes to a pandemic that killed millions worldwide, we need to government to put aside political self-interests, come clean and give us the information that we desperately need.
It literally is a matter of life and death.
To play games with the death tolls is about as bad a look as can be.
The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it is only including laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths at hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities.
That means the tally excludes people who died at home, hospice, in state prisons or at state-run homes for people living with with disabilities, the AP said.
What, those people don’t count?
The story also points out that it also excludes people who likely died of COVID-19, but never got a positive test to confirm the diagnosis.
According to New York City statistics, at least 5,000 people likely died of COVID-19 without a positive test.
This latest discrepancy in death tolls in the state comes in the wake of the nursing home death count controversy of last year. The issue is being investigated by federal prosecutors, the state attorney general’s office and the state Assembly’s judiciary committee.
Cuomo’s administration is accused of minimizing the toll of nursing home resident’s deaths by excluding all patients who died after being transferred to hospitals.
The AP story said that Cuomo used those lower numbers last year to erroneously claim that New York was seeing a much smaller percentage of nursing home residents dying of COVID-19 than other states.
New York’s track record on this is disgraceful.
To play political games on the deaths of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends is as low as it gets.
For the sake of restoring any bit of credibility, please New York, make this right.