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New York GOP renews push for investigation into nursing home deaths
The New York Daily News - 9/16/2020
ALBANY -- Republican lawmakers launched a petition drive Wednesday in an effort to push for an investigation into the number of coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes.
The petition calls on Democratic leaders to get behind a bill that would spark an independent investigation examining how the state handled the surge in COVID-19 cases among the elderly and what can be done to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus.
“We’re launching this petition drive to harness the power of the citizenry to pressure the Majorities to bring forward bi-partisan legislation for an independent investigation to subpoena the Health Department so we can provide a measure of closure to the loved ones of those who died and prevent this from happening again," said sponsor New York Sen. Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville).
The state has reported more than 6,400 COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes across the state, but critics contend that the number could be significantly higher since the Cuomo administration does not include elder care residents who died in hospitals.
Tedisco, Sen. Daphne Jordan (R-Halfmoon) and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R-Ballston) said the bill would create an independent investigation that would have subpoena power and help the public learn the real numbers of New Yorkers who died from COVID-19 in state-regulated nursing homes.
Democrats, who control both chambers of the Legislature, held a pair of hearing on the subject last month and have also asked the Cuomo administration for more information.
Health Commissioner Howard Zucker defended the state’s handling of the pandemic during the heated hearing.
When pressed about the nursing home deaths, said he would not release the number of New Yorkers who became infected with COVID-19 in an elder care facility and later died at a hospital until he can be sure the figures are accurate.
Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday reported that the state’s infection rate dropped to 0.87% after reaching 1% for the first time in over a month on Monday.
More than 75,000 tests were reported to the state on Tuesday, with 652 coming back positive. The state recorded another four deaths from COVID-19 and 483 people remain hospitalized with 138 in intensive care units.
In all, a total, 25,410 New Yorkers have died from the virus.
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