death toll
Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

In a move seen as a statement of accountability and transparency, new Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a revised Covid-19 death toll on Tuesday that included about 12,000 more fatalities than previously reported during the Cuomo administration.

New York state’s COVID-19 death toll, from March 1, 2020 through Aug. 24, 2021, now stands at 55,395. According to Hochul’s office, this figure represents the total number of COVID-19 deaths reported to and compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The figure is also about 28% higher than the 43,415 total COVID-19 deaths reported to the state’s Health Electronic Response Data System (HERDS). The Cuomo administration had previously used the HERDS figure in daily reporting of COVID-19 deaths in the Empire State, not the actual number provided to the CDC.

In making the rounds on morning news shows Wednesday, Hochul indicated that the new data release was a demonstration of her commitment to increased transparency in state government.

“Transparency starting just today, 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 during her appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “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. It’s not hard to do, you just get the information out there and address them.”

Other than the math, the main difference between the HERDS and CDC figures for New York state stems from how the data is collected.

The HERDS data, according to Hochul’s office, “collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only.” The CDC figure is based on “provisional death certificate data” reported by the state and city Departments of Health to the federal health monitoring agency, and includes deaths from COVID-19 in any location across the Empire State.

The publication of the CDC figure earned Hochul a new round of praise from state lawmakers and other activists critical of the Cuomo Administration’s reporting of COVID-19 death data. Much of that criticism initially stemmed from an investigation that state Attorney General Letitia James’ office conducted which found that the previous regime underreported the number of virus-related deaths in nursing homes.

The former governor took a further hit when former Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa told state lawmakers that the administration had delayed providing accurate COVID-19 death data to them while fulfilling a Justice Department request for the figures.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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