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Local Republicans Call For Investigation Of Nursing Home Death Count While Gov. Tom Wolf Disputes 'Baseless' Allegations

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that 100 percent of skilled nursing home patients have received their first vaccinations if they chose to have it.

That news comes as local Republican members of Congress question whether Wolf followed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's alleged undercounting of nursing home COVID-related deaths.

All four local Republican congressmen -- U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly, John Joyce, Guy Reschenthaler and Glenn Thompson -- sent a letter to Attorney General Josh Shapiro asking if he's investigating whether Wolf undercounted nursing home deaths in this state as is alleged to have happened in New York.

"I simply want to know if AG Shapiro is looking into whether Governor Wolf, like Governor Cuomo, is deflating the statistics and hiding the numbers in Pennsylvania," Reschenthaler told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

The charge is that nursing home patients who are transferred to hospitals and die there are not recorded as nursing home deaths even though that is where they contracted COVID.

Delano: "Do you have any reason to believe that Governor Wolf is doing that?"
Reschenthaler: "The fact that Governor Cuomo has done it. The fact that Governor Wolf has basically mimicked Governor Cuomo in the handling, I should say mishandling, of this pandemic makes me suspicious. And the end of the day, we should all want transparency. Governor Wolf should be open."

Wolf said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon, "In this commonwealth, this is a democracy, and we all need to be transparent and open. And we can all benefit from that. We can be better because we are open and transparent."

In a letter back to the Republicans, Shapiro said his office examines criminal matters, and the question of data collection should be directed to the State Inspector General.

Wolf said he's open to that.

"I think we're doing a pretty good job but we're always open to ways to improve. That really requires that we allow people to come in and take a look at what we're doing," he said.

In a statement late Tuesday, the Governor's office lambasted Reschenthaler and his Republican colleagues:

"These baseless, endemic insinuations by the GOP that Pennsylvania may have misrepresented nursing home deaths betray a significant lack of understanding of our reporting going back to the beginning of the pandemic."

"All deaths in Pennsylvania are confirmed by an individual's address and county of residence; and are reported in the total the Department of Health releases each day in the daily update (Monday through Saturday).

"Pennsylvania has never reported long-term care facility resident deaths as a death in the hospital. We have always reported the death by the county of residence and in the tragic deaths of our long-term care facility residents, that county of residence is the care facility where they resided."

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