Governor Kathy Hochul is seeking bids for an outside firm to conduct a long-awaited review of New York State’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report, dubbed the “Pandemic After-Action Review,” will be due late next year and look at the Empire State’s response to the crisis, and lay out how to prepare better for future health emergencies, Hochul said Wednesday.
“We’re not required to do it, it’s not mandated by law, but it is something I feel is important, because New Yorkers deserve the best from their government, they need to identify what worked, and what did not work, and why,” the governor told reporters during a news conference at her Midtown office on July 20.
“I believe it cannot just be a guide for future leaders in the State of New York but also for other states as we respond not just COVID, but to future emergencies,” she added.
Public health experts have for months been calling on the governor to launch an outside study of the state’s pandemic efforts, particularly in light of former Governor Andrew Cuomo underreporting thousands of nursing home deaths.
“I thought we’d be able to launch this when the pandemic its gone. It’s becoming clear to me that it’s not gone, so we’re not gonna wait any longer to start some analysis,” Hochul said.
The state launched a so-called Request for Proposals on July 20 with submissions by firms due by Aug. 17.
The investigation — which Hochul said will be the first of its kind in the country — begins in early to mid-November on a one-year contract and the state will ask for initial findings to be sent to Hochul within six months and publish the final report after a year.
Hochul tapped her commissioner of the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Jackie Bray to oversee the review process.
The probe will study how the state’s healthcare facilities and group settings handled the coronavirus outbreak, how people were transferred between different facilities like nursing homes, while also taking a look at the effects on education and the economy.
It will examine how federal, state, and local governments worked together and shared information with the public.
“This going to be thorough, this is for the ages, this is something that we’re going to continue to rely upon,” Hochul said.
Firms that contracted with the state for pandemic programs won’t be considered for the audit, according to the RFP.
“We want to make sure that there’s complete independence as well here,” Hochul said.