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Cuomo defends state's lower COVID death count than the CDC

Gov. Andrew Cuomo looks toward his right and speaks at a press conference. He is a white man with dark hair wearing a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie. There are two microphones in front of him and a dark blue backdrop behind him.
Kevin P. Coughlin
Office of the Governor
Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a press conference on reducing incidents of gun violence in New York City Wednesday at the Lenox Road Baptist Church in Brooklyn.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended New York's death count during the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday, following a report by the Associated Press that said the state may have undercounted the number of deaths from the disease by as many as 11,000 people.

The AP reports that, according to data New York state provided to the federal government on the number of deaths from COVID-19, the CDC said around 54,000 New Yorkers have passed away so far during the pandemic. But the state Department of Health lists around 43,000 deaths from the disease.

Cuomo was asked about the discrepancy at a news conference Wednesday.

“We have always reported lab-tested results,” Cuomo said. “CDC asks for additional information.”

Cuomo said the state gives the federal agency data about presumed deaths due to COVID and leaves it to the federal government to report that tally.

The AP found other states, including California, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, reported death numbers that mirror the CDC numbers and counted all cases where COVID is either the cause of death or a contributing factor.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.