“The perception is that nursing homes aren’t doing a good job when they have five, ten cases,” he said. “The reality might be that they’re the one where it didn’t explode to 30.”
When the final counting is done, he said, “We’re going to find that places with staff employed in a lot of places will turn out to be the hardest hit. An aide works in three places. You maximize the risk of bringing it in.”
Responding to the release of the data, ArchCare, which is affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York and operates four nonprofit homes in New York State, called the focus on deaths misleading. Among ArchCare’s properties is the Mary Manning Walsh Home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which, state records show, has had 31 deaths.
“Reducing the battle against coronavirus to a simple tally of lives lost ignores multiple realities and does a tremendous disservice to the thousands of dedicated health care workers who are putting their lives on the line each day,” the agency said in a statement.
In New Jersey, the loss of life has been almost as severe. As of Friday, 1,530 nursing home residents had died of the virus, according to the health commissioner, Judith Persichilli. New Jersey has not released data for individual facilities. In Connecticut, nearly 40 percent of the virus-related fatalities have involved nursing homes, although the state’s death toll is far below New York’s and New Jersey’s.
Advocates for people in nursing homes said the data was a start but not enough, because it did not tell families whether people in homes had the virus, or how widely it had spread. Without that, said Richard Mollot, the executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, “the state is essentially withholding the information necessary to make informed decisions on a personal, as well as community, level.”
That data might have been lifesaving for Ernest Afflitto, who said he was unable to get information about his cousin Dominic Garritanno, a resident of the King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn, for the roughly 10 days before Mr. Garritanno died of the virus on April 3.
“The phone rang and rang,” Mr. Afflitto said.
Matt Stevens contributed reporting.