Byrne Calls on President to Help Release Data on COVID-19 Deaths in Nursing Homes

Today, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R, C, Ref-Mahopac) solicited aid from President Trump requesting he take action to help obtain long sought after data on COVID-19 deaths from nursing homes. Members of the Legislature have repeatedly asked the state Department of Health (NYS DOH) for a complete record of COVID-19 deaths, including those who contracted the virus while in a nursing home but died elsewhere.

On September 24, Byrne and members of the Legislature wrote to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) requesting the agency update its rules to require retrospective reporting from nursing homes to ensure the data legislators and advocates have been seeking for months is made public. The CDC director replied by restating the agency’s existing rules and did not directly respond to the request to change them in order to make the information available. In a letter to the President, signed by at least 25 members of the Assembly, Byrne called the CDC’s response “unsatisfactory” and requested aid from the President as part of “a last ditch effort… to obtain the long sought after COVID-19 data New York families and good-government groups have been seeking for months.”

“We’ve held numerous bipartisan hearings and forums on this issue and have made repeated requests for more information from the NYS DOH. Some good government groups have even resorted to litigation to try to obtain this data, to no avail as of yet. These families deserve real answers. Many remain concerned that a mandate from the NYS DOH on March 25, that prohibited nursing homes from denying COVID-19 patients and prohibited them from requiring a test, created a deadly environment that further spread this wicked virus to our most vulnerable,” said Byrne. “It is our hope the White House will consider assisting us in obtaining this critical information. As policy makers, we must have the real numbers so we can learn from this pandemic and support better policies moving forward. Family members who lost loved ones have had their pleas for this information ignored for far too long. Earlier this year, I led a group of legislators in writing to the CDC requesting it updates its rules to ensure retrospective reporting so we know the full count of how many patients died from contracting COVID-19 in elder care facilities. The cookie-cutter response we got back was simply unacceptable. It’s time the President got involved to ensure this information is made available.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the entire New York Congressional Delegation were copied on the letter to President Trump.

The letter closed with a final plea, stating, “Mr. President, you have come to our state’s aid in the past. We ask you do so again with your administration’s support, ensuring this important information is made publicly available.”

Link to copy of letter to President Trump.

Link to copy of correspondence with CDC.