The New York State Department of Health has announced an expanded effort to accurately count morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 or influenza. A new emergency order requires confirmatory laboratory testing whenever a hospital patient or nursing home resident has a known exposure or symptoms consistent with either disease.
Testing must also be performed on any hospital patient or nursing home resident where the person is suspected of having died of such disease, within 48 hours after death, if that individual had not previously received a COVID-19 and influenza test in the 14 days prior to death.
The new emergency regulation also applies to funeral directors and medical examiners for individuals suspected of having died from either disease, but were not in the care of a hospital or nursing home.
This process is intended to ensure integrity in data reporting as the State continues its COVID-19 pandemic response and as it prepares for another flu season.
The emergency regulations can be found here.
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “While the human toll this virus has taken on New Yorker is immeasurable, these regulations will ensure we have the most accurate death data possible as we continue to manage COVID-19 while preparing for flu season. Good quality health data helps inform good quality public health decisions, and this information will strengthen our contact tracing efforts and slow the spread of this virus.”
Any facility or local health department that lacks the ability to perform testing within the required timeframe can request that the New York State Health Department perform the test.