(WIVB) — When COVID hit with full force, the state imposed tough restrictions on visitation in nursing homes.
The lockdown policy was meant to keep people safe and reduce the COVID-19 positive rates in nursing homes.
For many families, it would prove to be a painful experience.
The state would later relax the visitation policy.
By July, the state had reported 6,500 people died in nursing homes because of the virus.
Critics of Governor Andrew Cuomo were quick to take aim at his controversial March directive that required nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients from hospitals if they had the capacity to care for them.
The March directive was later rescinded.
A State Department of Health report issued later in the year concluded that admission policies were not a significant factor in nursing home deaths. Instead, the report cited employee transmission as the primary driver.
In January of this year, the State Attorney General’s Office released a report that found the State Department of Health undercounted COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents by as much as 50%.
Nursing home residents who died in hospitals were not reflected in the state’s published data at the time, the report noted. Governor Cuomo maintained that the state had accurately reported total deaths whether they happened in hospitals or nursing homes.
The state now acknowledges that as many as 15,000 people died in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The number includes residents who died after being transferred out of nursing homes.
Meanwhile, the state’s handling of the nursing home crisis is now the subject of a federal investigation.