State: NY’s 2020 COVID death toll was higher than reported

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 5:00 PM EDT
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - New COVID-19 numbers released by the state paint a different picture of the severity of the pandemic in its first year. The numbers, triple-checked by the state, reveal thousands of deaths not initially reported.

Three years after the outbreak began, there are new numbers regarding the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those numbers reveal the disease was the second leading cause of death statewide in 2020.

Initial numbers from the state showed that as of December 31, 2020, there were 30,208 COVID deaths statewide.

But new data shows 36,337 people died as a result of COVID-19 in 2020 - a difference of 6,129 people.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Health says the numbers reported in 2020 were from the Health Electronic Response Data System, or HERDS, where healthcare facilities and nursing homes would report COVID-19 deaths.

Those numbers did not include deaths that occurred at home or elsewhere until now.

The spokesperson also tells 7 News the new numbers have been “triple-checked,” verified through records and death certificates.

A majority of the new deaths reported from 2020 come from downstate. St. Lawrence County has three additional reported deaths. Jefferson and Lewis counties stayed the same.

According to HERDS data from the state, as of April 20, 2023, Jefferson County has lost 163 residents to COVID. Lewis County had 59 people die and St. Lawrence saw 227 deaths from COVID.

Those numbers could be larger considering those who may have died at home.