New N.Y. Governor Hochul Adds 12,000 COVID Deaths to Toll for 'Transparency' After Cuomo

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo had not disclosed the additional deaths while he was in office

Kathy Hochul
Kathy Hochul. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty

Newly sworn-in New York Gov. Kathy Hochul added 12,000 COVID-19 deaths to the state's count on Tuesday, saying that she wanted New Yorkers to have "transparency" after her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, had not disclosed the additional deaths.

"The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what's happening. And that's whether it's good or bad, they need to know the truth. And that's how we restore confidence," Hochul said on NPR.

The 12,000 newly reported deaths bring New York's COVID-19 death toll up to 55,423 as of Aug. 25. On Cuomo's last day in office, he said the number of deaths was just over 43,000.

"We're now releasing more data than had been released before publicly so people know the nursing home deaths and the hospital deaths are consistent with what's being displayed by the CDC," Hochul said on Morning Joe on Wednesday.

Under Cuomo, New York had only identified deaths "as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities," the new governor's website says. The additional data incorporates people who died "in any location," such as at home or in hospice care.

"There's a lot of things that weren't happening, and I'm going to make them happen. Transparency will be the hallmark of my administration," Hochul said. "It's not hard to do. You just get the information out there."

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In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report summarizing her investigation into the state's nursing homes and their handling of the pandemic, which showed that nursing home deaths "may have been undercounted by as much as 50%." A month later, Cuomo acknowledged that his administration made a "mistake" in not properly reporting the deaths.

Cuomo resigned earlier this month after a report from James alleged that he had sexually harassed 11 women and created a toxic work environment during his time in office. He has denied any wrongdoing, and stepped down after the state legislature threatened to begin impeachment proceedings.

As of Aug. 26, New York is seeing an average of 4,401 new COVID-19 cases a day, according to The New York Times, an increase from June and July, but still lower than the average from before vaccines were widely available. Currently, 79% of New Yorkers over age 18 are fully vaccinated.

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