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Steuben Health Officials Say Corning Center Failed To Report Six More Deaths

Updated: 10/30/20 – 1:42 P.M.

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Steuben County health officials announced six more COVID-19 related deaths at Corning Center on Wednesday. The deaths occurred between Sept. 30 and Oct. 17.

According to Steuben County Public Health, the nursing home failed to notify county officials of the deaths at the time they occurred, leading to the reporting delay.

This is a repeat of another failed report in September. County Manager Jack Wheeler said that instance was because of a change in administration at the nursing home. He said they were not made aware of the county's requested reporting procedures for nursing homes and adult-care facilities.

However, Corning Center spokesperson Jeff Jacomowitz said in a statement that the nursing facility was following what they understood as the procedures, and did not purposely fail to report the deaths.

“Based on a rule that was put in place on September 30 by the Steuben County Department of Health, they ask that Corning Center only report Steuben County deaths, not Chemung County deaths,” Jacomowitz wrote. “The facility is not in the business of misleading authorities and the public alike.”

Wheeler said Friday that all positive cases at Corning Center are counted in Steuben County’s official COVID-19 data, regardless of the legal residence of the person infected. The same goes for all related deaths.

He said this structure has been in place since the start of the pandemic to avoid double counting of positive cases and deaths. Exceptions may be granted for cases in which the person was only a short-term, rehabilitation resident at Corning Center, Wheeler said.

“We’ve had those communications. We speak with Corning Center frequently and our press release and subsequent statements are not meant to criticize or to place blame or anything like that," Wheeler said. "We are just as concerned as they are with the severity and tragic losses than whose numbers are which. In the end, they are human lives.”

He added that any case from Corning Center that is reported to Chemung County is then transferred back to Steuben County’s tracking. Wheeler said he confirmed with Chemung County officials that the six cases were not counted in their COVID-19 tracking.*

According to Jacomowitz, Corning Center reports all deaths to the New York State Department of Health and the Hospital Emergency Response Data System daily. New York state data showed that, as of Wednesday, there were 27 deaths at the facility. Jacomowitz said that the six “new” deaths are included in that count.

Steuben County officials said they were not previously made aware of the deaths.

Nursing facilities are only required to report COVID-19 cases and deaths to the state, but Steuben County established protocols earlier this year to also be notified.

The nursing home saw a spike in COVID-19-related deaths in the days after Labor Day. 131 residents and staff at the facility tested positive for the virus since May.

*This story has been updated to include clarifying information from Steuben County.