COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities in New York state, including nursing homes and adult care facilities, surged in the final weeks of 2020, federal data show.
There were 508 deaths in long-term care facilities in New York in the two-week period ending on Jan. 4—an average of more than 250 deaths per week—according to the Long Term Care Community Coalition, whose figures are based on New York State Department of Health data.
The initial months of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak saw thousands of residents in long-term care facilities in New York die because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Later, the average weekly COVID-19 deaths dropped to just over a dozen between July and October 2020, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as cited by The Wall Street Journal.
In one upstate New York nursing home, a COVID-19 surge that started on Dec. 21, 2020, has claimed at least 32 lives, according to CNYcentral.com. A spokesperson at The Commons on St. Anthony in Auburn told the outlet that the facility is experiencing 104 ongoing infections and nearly 50 staff members are in quarantine.
The total number of COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities in New York since the beginning of the outbreak now stands at 8,110, the coalition data shows. Yet these figures only reflect the number of residents who physically died in the nursing homes and adult care facilities and don’t include those who died off-premises. The total number of COVID-19 deaths associated with such facilities could be far larger if it takes into account people who were taken to hospitals after falling ill with the virus and later died there.
A watchdog told the New York Post on Jan. 13 that the total number of New York long-term care facility residents who have died due to COVID-19 won’t be known for at least several more months. A representative of the Empire Center for Public Policy, which in August 2020 filed a Freedom of Information Law request seeking more complete data on nursing home deaths, told the outlet that state health authorities said in a letter that they need until at least March 22 to complete a full accounting of COVID-19 fatalities in long-term facilities.
Meanwhile, as New York deals with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ramped up the state’s inoculation efforts, calling vaccines “the weapon that will win the war.”
Cuomo on Jan. 13 announced the opening of the first three state-run COVID-19 vaccination sites—at Jacob K. Javits Center, Westchester County Center, and New York State Fair Expo Center—with another two set to open by the end of the week. An additional 15 more vaccination sites are expected to be announced in the coming days.
“Our singular focus is getting shots into arms and with the opening of these state-run sites today, we are doing just that,” Cuomo said in a statement.
In New York, like in much of the United States, efforts to get the two vaccines that have so far been authorized into the arms of Americans have moved slower than hoped due to a slew of issues, including strict rules controlling who should get inoculated first.
Cuomo, who previously said all health care workers should be inoculated before the state moved on to other categories, recently changed course, announcing on Jan. 8 that people aged 75 and over could receive the shot, in a bid to get more shots into the arms of New Yorkers more quickly.
Still, the state’s expanded distribution network and broadened eligibility criteria far exceed the vaccine supply coming from the federal government, which is coming at a rate of around 300,000 doses per week. Cuomo’s office said eligible New Yorkers should be prepared to receive a vaccination appointment date as far as 14 weeks in the future—or later.
“The vaccine is the weapon that ends the war, but we’re locked in a footrace between its quick distribution and the spread of new cases,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New Yorkers can get through this together, but it will require a willingness to take precautions not just for themselves, but for others. Wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay socially distanced.”
Total deaths due to the CCP virus in New York stands at 32,175, as of Jan. 13, according to Cuomo’s office.