BUFFALO, N.Y. — A clearer picture of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes emerged this week when the New York State Department of Health released new numbers that included how many residents died "out of facility."
New York State reports 840 nursing home residents in Erie County have died of COVID-19. Of those, 621 were confirmed at nursing homes and 219 were considered out-of-facility deaths. Nine were presumed COVID deaths.
Within Erie County, Harris Hill Nursing Home has 138 overall deaths, with 117 confirmed deaths, 19 deaths "out of facility," plus two presumed deaths, according to the data.
"Out of facility" includes nursing home residents who contracted the virus but then died at a hospital or other location.
According to the state's data, Father Baker Manor had 81 COVID-19 confirmed fatalities at the nursing home and 28 COVID-19 confirmed out of facility deaths of nursing homes.
However, a spokesperson for Catholic Health, who runs Father Baker Manor, disputes the numbers at that facility.
They say Father Baker Manor only had 29 COVID deaths in the facility, and a total of 105 confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
They say "the cases attributed to Father Baker are from the St. Joseph Post-Acute Center, a separate facility established by Catholic Health under the license of Father Baker Manor in April 2020 to provide patient care to those rehabilitating from COVID-19 while keeping their COVID-19-negative residents safe from infection."
2 On Your Side is contacting the state to confirm those numbers.
The death toll for other Western New York counties include: (these numbers count presumed deaths)
- Niagara County, 148
- Genesee County, 75
- Orleans County, 59
- Allegany County, 56
- Chautauqua County, 52
- Wyoming County, 29
- Cattaraugus County, 6
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep Tom Reed and others called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NYSDOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, and Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa to be subpoenaed regarding the Attorney General’s report.
While the Attorney General's report confirmed all COVID deaths were counted by the state health department, those defined as nursing-home related were underreported by as much as 50 percent.
A judge on Tuesday ordered the Cuomo administration to release details on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes after the state was sued by the Empire Center, a think tank that sought the data under the state's Freedom of Information Law.
Empire Center, which was the first to report on the data, released a statement Saturday, saying more transparency is necessary.
"The details released Saturday represent a tiny fraction of what the Empire Center requested. The department has now posted facility-level totals for a single day, Feb. 4, whereas the center requested facility-level numbers for each day of the pandemic," the statement read, in part.