The citizens need the most accurate information about the coronavirus in order to make the best decisions about their health and to best assess the government’s ongoing response to the crisis.
But right now, the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t giving it to them.
If you look at the number of deaths associated with the virus reported by the state, you’ll see a vastly lower number than those reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .
As of Wednesday, the CDC reported 53,737 covid-related deaths in New York since the start of the pandemic, while the Cuomo administration reported only 43,020 – a difference of 10,717, or about 20%.
That’s because the administration — which is under fire for numerous issues related to its handling of the virus — isn’t including all the relevant information.
New York only counts laboratory-confirmed covid deaths at hospitals, nursing homes and adult-care facilities. It doesn’t include in its figures people who died at home, in hospice care, in prisons or in state-run homes for the disabled, according to the Associated Press.
Nor does the state include in its figures people who likely died from covid but who never confirmed the diagnosis with a positive test.
The CDC — along with states like California, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — includes people who have died with covid listed on their death certificates as a cause or contributing factor.
It’s not only misleading to the public to consistently underreport death figures, it’s also potentially dangerous.
It allows the public to think the state is doing a better job handling the crisis than it is and deprives them of knowing how their communities are being affected.
Underreporting may prevent resources such as medical staff and equipment from being directed where they’re needed most, prevent health officials from addressing problem areas that are being overlooked, and affect related policy decisions.
Reporting inaccurate numbers also makes the public mistrust government at a time when trust of government institutions is vital to getting the country past this crisis.
This is all nothing new for this administration, of course.
The state attorney general’s office earlier this year reported it had undercounted coronavirus-related deaths of state nursing home residents by the thousands of people, perhaps by 40% to 50%.
Underreporting deaths is a political decision that makes the administration’s response look better than it has been. And politics should never enter the picture when the public’s health is at risk.
The Cuomo administration immediately needs to start reporting complete and accurate figures on covid-related deaths in order to give the public a true picture of what’s been happening and what might lie ahead.