Michigan Republicans are calling for an investigation into Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s policy that forced long-term care facilities to accept coronavirus-positive patients.
In letters to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson last week, state Senator Jim Runestad claims that there is “no accurate data on how many residents may have been harmed by this policy” due to “reporting failures.”
“Gov. Whitmer’s administration has been questioned repeatedly about unintended consequences of her policies and discrepancies in the reported numbers of cases and deaths in our state’s long-term care facilities,” Runestad writes in the letters obtained by National Review. “It has now come to our attention that these reporting errors have likely not been resolved.”
He adds that “questions remain regarding the accuracy of data, compliance with CDC guidelines and compliance with our state’s Freedom of Information Act. There is a critical need for a full investigation into these matters.”
Runestad writes that there has been no clear reporting path to document nursing home patient cases by facility after a transfer takes place.
“Moving residents around the state between facilities and hospitals may have significantly increased exposure of nursing home residents to the virus, while simultaneously shielding the toll.”
When Runestad and seven other GOP state senators contacted nursing homes in their districts they found discrepancies in how cases were being reported, according to the letter.
While some nursing homes are reporting a positive test in their numbers when a patient is transferred to a hospital and receives a positive test result there, others are not.
“The executive orders have only required long-term care facilities to report when they have a resident who had a positive test at their facility, but not when a patient who was transferred tests positive,” the letter says. “Additionally, there may be similar discrepancies in how these deaths are reported after transfer.”
In Michigan 15,273 people have died of the virus — 5,515 of whom were residents at long-term care facilities. Another 79 were employees at those facilities.
The letter notes that the U.S. Department of Justice announced in August that it is seeking data from Michigan’s governor and three other governors “who issued orders that may have resulted in the deaths of elderly nursing home residents.”
When Michigan House Oversight Committee chairman Steven Johnson held a hearing to investigate, the state health and human services director sent a letter in lieu of in-person testimony.
“Basically what it said was, ‘We are doing everything we have to, we have the greatest data out there, we’re collecting everything like we are supposed to,” Johnson said, according to FOX2 Detroit. “But they didn’t actually share the data with us.”
Ted Goodman, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party, called the Whitmer administration’s “lack of transparency unacceptable,” and said the lockdown orders and nursing home policies “have led to additional suffering that could have been avoided.”
“The people of Michigan deserve a full investigation into these matters,” Goodman told National Review.
The letter comes as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has faced calls for an investigation into his administration’s coverup of its dismal handling of nursing home coronavirus deaths.
Last month, a top aide to Governor Cuomo admitted that the administration covered up the true data on nursing home deaths from the coronavirus in New York state in order to hide the magnitude of the issue from federal authorities.