The study by the nonprofit Empire Center for Public Policy tied "several hundred and possibly more than 1,000" deaths to the since-rescinded March 25, 2020, mandate that critics have charged with spreading the coronavirus among vulnerable seniors.
The analysis also implies the controversial mandate is "associated with" more than one in six of 5,780 nursing deaths statewide between the end of March and early May.
"The findings contradict a central conclusion of the state Department of Health’s July 6 report on coronavirus in nursing homes, which said, among other things: ‘Admission policies were not a significant factor in nursing home fatalities,’ and ‘the data do not show a consistent relationship between admissions and increased mortality,’ " according to a draft report conducted by the Empire Center.
The DOH report originally blamed the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes on infected but asymptomatic staffers and visitors, and has repeatedly been mentioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject any option — even though he had cautioned on March 29, "Coronavirus in a nursing home is like fire in dry grass."
The Empire Center’s report is based on data that the DOH released to the watchdog group and The Post in response to appeals under the state Freedom of Information Law.
The Albany-based think tank said it arrived at its resolutions by comparing the death rates at facilities that admitted COVID-19 patients released from hospitals to the rates at others that didn’t, then gnawing the numbers to "a statistical confidence level of 99 percent."
The study revealed that nursing homes outside New York City and its suburbs bore the brunt of the order, with each one that received COVID-19 patients averaging 9.3 more deaths than those that didn’t.
But in and around the city, the contrast wasn’t statistically significant, most likely because the coronavirus was so extensive there during the early days of the pandemic.
The report resolves that the March 25 directive "was not the sole or primary cause of the heavy death toll in nursing homes."
But Bill Hammond, the center’s senior fellow for health policy and author of the report, said the policy — which Cuomo reversed on May 10 — "clearly did make some difference and it made a bad situation worse."
Hammond also said the data he reviewed "raises more questions about the credibility of the Health Department’s analysis" in its July report.
"Their methodology was questionable — we know they used partial data for crucial variables, deaths and admissions," he said.