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New York State health leader gives no answer on nursing home deaths

Howard Zucker on Wednesday turned down a request to give that number at a hearing on the COVID impact on hospitals across the state.

ALBANY, N.Y. — For the third time in two weeks, New York State's health commissioner would not say how many New York nursing home patients died in hospitals.

Howard Zucker on Wednesday turned down a request to give that number at a hearing on the COVID impact on hospitals across the state.

He gave the same response at two hearings over the last two Mondays about nursing homes, saying he's trying to make sure deaths aren't double-counted.

This comes a day after an Associated Press report blasted the Cuomo Administration, saying the official state count of 6,600 nursing home deaths may be thousands too low, because unlike almost every other state, it only counts those who died on nursing home property.

A downstate Democratic assemblyman pushed for why New Yorkers aren't getting those numbers.

"You have the source of the admissions. All you have to do is release them. When and where are we going to get those numbers?" said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who represents the 92nd District.

"I want to know how many came from nursing homes. I want to know how many came from group homes. I want to know how many came from congregate care."

Zucker replied: "Assemblyman, I understand the numbers you want, but I also know that you want to be sure that there is no double-counting and they are accurate."

The commissioner would not say when he would have the numbers available for lawmakers.