Republicans in the state Assembly on Friday urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update reporting guidelines for nursing home residents who have died of COVID-related deaths during the pandemic. 

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne in a letter to the CDC called for the update guidance as New York's nursing home fatality count remains at issue. Officially, New York's death toll of nursing home residents stands at about 6,300 people, though that number likely much higher.

The state currently counts those who have died in nursing homes of COVID-19, not those who were transported to hospitals. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said such a change could lead to a double count of fatalities and skew the death toll in the state overall. 

"My colleagues and I are urging the CDC to update its guidance requiring nursing homes to employ retrospective reporting of resident deaths," Barclay said in a statement. "The administration’s continued refusal to release this information is a blatant attempt to hide the severity and scale of the crisis in the state’s nursing homes from the general public."

Cuomo has decried the politicization of the nursing home issue in New York, noting other states faced similar troubles during the pandemic. But the issue has faced scrutiny from Republicans as well as Democrats in the Legislature. 

And part of the issue has been finding a true death toll for nursing homes. The lawmakers in the letter released Friday noted the CDC had required nursing homes in the middle of May to report COVID-related deaths regardless of where they took place. But the requirement for such a mandate was not retroactive to earlier in the pandemic.

“We’ve heard from the families and friends of individuals who died of COVID-19 in nursing homes – and story after story is heartbreaking,” said Byrne. “Families of the more than 6,500 individuals who have died in residential health care facilities due to the virus deserve answers. For the governor’s administration to continue to refuse to provide an accurate number of nursing home deaths is despicable. We are imploring the CDC to change its reporting guidance so we may more accurately analyze the full scope of the true impact of the virus and better prepare for a potential second wave.”