ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Majority Democratic Assemblymember Ron Kim introduced legislation calling for an independent, bipartisan state commission to further investigate the deaths of the thousands of New Yorkers who died from the coronavirus in state-regulated nursing homes.

At least 6,500 lives were lost in nursing homes due to COVID-19, according to data released by the state’s Department of Health. Senator Jim Tedisco said he believes the number could be much higher because some contracted the virus at a nursing home and were transported to a local area hospital where they lost their lives.

Senator Tedisco and Assemblymember Kim want to create a state panel that consists of five members. The members would be appointed by the Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Assembly Speaker and Assembly Minority Leader, and chaired by an appointee of the New York State Attorney General. 

“The movement for an independent, unbiased and bi-partisan investigation with subpoena power to examine the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers in the state’s nursing homes just got a lot stronger today thanks to Democratic Majority Assembly Member Ron Kim’s sponsorship of my legislation to help us get answers for the families of those who lost their lives and help prepare for a second wave of this pandemic,” said Senator Jim Tedisco.  “I want to thank Assembly Member Kim for his leadership on this issue and thank all my colleagues who have sponsored this bill so we can provide a measure of closure to the loved ones of those who lost their lives from COVID-19 while in a nursing home.”