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The vulnerability of nursing home residents in this crisis was so clearly foreseeable

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

[Regarding this story: Lack Of Testing Obscures True Scale Of Coronavirus Impact On NY Nursing Homes]

The 2,200 nursing home COVID-19-related deaths (in NYS — 1,344 in NYC) include only those who have tested positive. But nursing home operators say they don’t have testing capabilities, so that 2,200 figure only accounts for the residents who were moved to hospitals. If you die at the nursing home, which is evidently happening in big numbers, your cause of death isn’t COVID-19, at least until a medical examiner or funeral director can get to you, which isn’t happening anytime soon, with deaths bottlenecking.

Governor Cuomo isn’t releasing the full data that would help clarify the true, possibly far grimmer picture, citing privacy concerns, which is bullshit-ese for avoiding political embarrassment.


But it seems like a better mitigation strategy would have seen New York state or even federal guidelines mandating that nursing home staff be outfitted with the same PPE hospitals receive (and yeah, I know hospitals are having a hard enough time, but that’s a whole other discussion). Because it seems less likely that nursing home residents are transmitting the virus to each other as it seems like staff is serving as vectors between the residents — staff are also getting the virus at alarming rates.

If you have family in a nursing home right now I don’t even know what to say to you other than seeing if you can’t get them out, or help bolster that facility’s PPE and standards through relentless advocacy.

We knew that nursing homes were more vulnerable even before we saw that the first US deaths (in WA state) were at nursing homes. It was more than foreseeable, it was inevitable. The number of confirmed coronavirus nursing home deaths in New York state represent approx 20 percent of the state’s total deaths; the state’s nursing home residents represent approx 0.5 percent of the state’s total population.

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