New York Ups State COVID-19 Death Toll by 12,000 as Hochul Vows Transparency After Cuomo Exit

The newly-minted New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) recently released an updated tally on the state’s COVID-19 death toll, revealing that the total was actually 12,000 cases higher than what was initially reported at the end of the Cuomo administration.

As the hours dwindled on former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s term, the outgoing official detailed that about 43,400 COVID-19 deaths had been reported across the Empire State. However, by the time that Hochul took the reins and held her first pandemic update, an additional 12,000 cases were reported, bringing the total to 55,400.

The stark difference in figures is rooted in the fact that Hochul’s figures were based on

death certificate data

submitted to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whereas Cuomo’s tally stemmed from

laboratory-confirmed deaths

at hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities.

Using solely laboratory-confirmed data, the Cuomo administration’s tally

did not include

individuals who had died in hospice, state prisons or those who died at home.


©
REUTERS / CINDY SCHULTZ

New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference the day after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation at the New York State Capitol, in Albany, New York, U.S., August 11, 2021

Addressing the differing figures, Hochul

explained

during a recent NPR interview that the New York public needed to be aware of both figures as part of her larger effort to ensure that her administration is entirely transparent with the public.

“There are presumed and confirmed deaths. People should know both,” Hochul said. “Also, as of yesterday, we’re using CDC numbers, which will be consistent, and so there’s no opportunity for us to mask those numbers, nor do I want to mask those numbers.”

“The public deserves a

clear, honest picture

of what’s happening. That’s whether it’s good or bad,” she added.

However, it’s worth noting that Hochul’s higher tally is not entirely unheard of. Federal health officials and others tracking the pandemic’s effect on the US had been pulling figures with the CDC data to compile their own numbers after gaps in the Cuomo administration’s counting had been publicized.


©
REUTERS / ANDREW KELLY

A farewell speech by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is broadcast live on a screen in Times Square on his final day in office in Manhattan, New York City, US, August 23, 2021

In fact, the Cuomo administration came under fire during the height of the pandemic after reports revealed that his office had been manipulating the number of COVID-19-related figures, especially when it came to the death toll within

nursing homes

, which had been undercounted by thousands.

In addition to the Hochul administration using different data to compile their death toll figures, the new governor has announced a bevy of new pandemic measures, including directing state health officials to make masks mandatory for anyone entering public or private school grounds. She has also detailed efforts to push for school staff to be vaccinated or be forced to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.