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Patients’ release accelerated outbreak

AP: Over 9,000 virus patients sent into NY nursing homes

NEW YORK (AP) — More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York state were released from hospitals into nursing homes early in the pandemic under a controversial order that was scrapped amid criticisms it accelerated outbreaks, according to new records obtained by The Associated Press.

The new number of 9,056 recovering patients sent to hundreds of nursing homes is more than 40% higher than what had been previously released by the state health department. And it raises new questions as to whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 25 directive helped spread sickness and death among residents, a charge his administration disputes.

“The lack of transparency and the meting out of bits of important data has undermined our ability to both recognize the scope and severity of what’s going on,” said Richard Mollot, the executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, a residents advocacy group.

The new figures come as the Cuomo administration has been forced in recent weeks to acknowledge that the overall number of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents is nearly 15,000, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.

Cuomo’s March 25 directive requiring nursing homes to take recovering COVID-19 patients was intended to free up space in hospitals swamped in the early days of the pandemic. It came under criticism from advocates for nursing home residents and their relatives for the potential to spread the virus in a state that at the time already had the nation’s highest nursing home death toll.

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