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New York has still not released data regarding the total number of people at nursing homes in the state who died from coronavirus, weeks after receiving a request for more information from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has faced criticism for a March order that required infected patients to return to their facilities after being treated at hospitals, has so far only released statistics of patients who died while still at the nursing homes.
The governor's office has not responded to Fox News' latest request for the total number of deaths.
The DOJ sent a letter to Cuomo in August seeking data from publicly-run nursing homes in the state, and in October they made a similar request regarding privately-owned facilities. Both requests sought data, including the number of residents, employees and staff who died of COVID-19 at the nursing homes, hospitals or anywhere else.
"This is a necessary step … for families to get a sense of closure from the traumatic experience that they had to go through," Democratic New York Assemblyman Ronald Kim said about the DOJ's October inquiry, according to the Associated Press.
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A copy of the DOJ's letter to the New York Department of Health reported by the New York Post requested that the state provide the requested data within 14 days. Thus far, the numbers remain hidden from the public. Fox News asked the DOJ if the state responded to their inquiry, but the department did not immediately respond.
The state has so far only accounted for approximately 6,500 COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes. New York has a total death count of more than 33,500 people, the most in the U.S. So far it remains unclear what percentage of those deaths were nursing home patients.
Cuomo has vehemently denied responsibility for nursing home deaths, and has cited other possible factors such as infected staff spreading the illness.
The governor has recently been sparring with President Trump over a possible COVID-19 vaccine, as companies, including Pfizer and Moderna, have made great strides in developing effective vaccine candidates. Cuomo has said that he would have state officials study any vaccine approved by the federal government before distributing it to residents, which prompted Trump to say he would not send it to New York at all unless the state gives the vaccine the green light.
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This led to Cuomo threatening to sue the administration if the White House discriminates against his state. The president said he would send the vaccine if Cuomo would readily accept it.
"The governor will let us know when he’s ready,” Trump said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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