Department of Justice wants info on New York’s nursing home response

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WLNS) — Federal officials are requesting information on COVID-19 orders that may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents in four states.

The Department of Justice requested the data today in a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as the governors from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is evaluating whether to investigate under the federal “Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.”

“We have not reached any conclusions about this matter,” states the letter to Cuomo from Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “In the Division’s many
years of enforcing CRIPA, the good faith efforts of state, county, or local jurisdictions working with us have enabled us to resolve many matters amicably. We request the above information within 14 days.”

The data request includes:

  1. How many public nursing home residents, employees, other staff, guests, and visitors
    contracted COVID-19, regardless of where they contracted COVID-19
  2. How many residents, employees, other staff, guests, and visitors died of COVID-19, including those in public nursing homes or after transfers to a hospital, hospice, home care, or any other medical care facility
  3. All state-issued guidance, directives, advisories, or executive orders regarding admission
    of persons to public nursing homes, including those previously superseded, as well as the
    dates they were in effect
  4. How many were admitted to public nursing homes from a medical care facility after testing positive during the period the guidance or orders were in effect

The Civil Rights Division wants to determine if state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.

“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” Dreiband says. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”

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