One week ago, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report suggesting that N.Y. health officials had underreported COVID-19 nursing home deaths by up to 50%. The report came after a plethora of criticism aimed at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for his pandemic policies.
New York Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor has now ruled that state officials must turn over any available data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths within five business days.
O’Connor added that the state must pay for any litigation costs from Empire Center, a non-partisan think tank that has been pushing for the data for months.
Bill Hammond, a member of Empire Center said, “We hope Justice O’Connor’s unequivocal ruling finally pushes the Cuomo administration to do the right thing. The people of New York, especially those who have lost loved ones in nursing homes, have waited much too long to see this clearly public information about one of the worst disasters in state history.”
Empire Center had filed its request to release the data back in August, but the release had been postponed three times before they were eventually told that health officials would need until March 2022 to fully compile the data.
O’Connor brought this delay up in her statement, asserting that the “DOH does not, in the Court’s opinion, offer an adequate explanation as to why it has not responded to that request within its estimated time period or to date. The Court is not persuaded that the respondent’s estimated date for responding to Empire Center’s FOIL request is reasonable under the circumstances of the request.”