By Jessica Easthope
When Peter and Daniel Arbeeny want to see their dad, Norman they look at a wall of pictures. The Amity Street home where he spent 89 years is now a tribute to his life and legacy.
“He was a typical old-school Brooklyn boy who was about the community, sitting on the stoop and being part of something bigger than yourself,” said Daniel of his dad.
But it’s a wall on the other side of the apartment that represents Peter and Daniel’s fight for justice: The “We Care Memorial Wall” with hundreds of pictures of nursing home victims. Like all of them, Norman died of COVID-19. He contracted it while in a nursing facility but died at home – which means for more than a year, the state never counted his death.
When Gov. Kathy Hochul took office, she acknowledged the 12,000 COVID deaths former Gov. Cuomo’s administration never reported. But to the Arbeeny’s they’re still wondering where Norman fits in.
“There’s no way for nursing home families to look up to decide, or see, or search if their family member is in that 12,000. So my family’s not going to stop until my father counts in that 12,000 and also counts as part of the 15,500 nursing home fatalities,” said Peter.
The Arbeeny’s want an apology and for information and documents that show the circumstances surrounding Norman’s death. They’re also waiting for Gov. Hochul to conduct a full investigation.
“Getting an independent investigation, really digging into this and having the political will to care more about all of us than the fallout,” Daniel said.
A statement from Gov. Hochul’s office says, “Governor Hochul is deeply committed to transparency and restoring trust in government.
Upon advice from and consultation with the Department of Health, starting on day one of the Hochul Administration, we began including an additional data set from the CDC in the daily reports to be as open and transparent as possible.
This data set, which is death certificate numbers that have been reported to and compiled by the CDC, was not included before in the State’s daily reports. We will always prioritize open communication with New Yorkers as we work together to battle the pandemic.”
The Arbeeny’s lives have taken on a new purpose. They’re willing to fight tirelessly for justice and for answers.