Another blue state governor has been caught cooking the books on COVID deaths at nursing homes.
First, there was the disgraced former governor of New York who was investigated for underreporting nursing home COVID deaths by 50 percent. Andrew Cuomo was desperately trying to hide the fact that his deadly policy of sending COVID-positive patients from hospitals to nursing homes wasn’t as bad as his critics were saying.
Now comes Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who was being cheered on by the left for literally locking her state down at the start of the pandemic. Her draconian policies prohibited neighbors from coming together and made it illegal for vacation homeowners to travel to their own properties.
A report from Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler set to be released next week will show that Whitmer’s administration undercounted COVID deaths in nursing homes by a whopping 42 percent. And, in an irony of ironies, the spike in mortality was caused by the same policies regarding COVID-positive hospital patients in Michigan as was caused in Cuomo’s New York.
The revelation comes nearly two years after Whitmer implemented a policy that required nursing homes to accept positive coronavirus patients who were discharged from hospitals. That decision, Republicans argued, led to increased deaths in elderly facilities. One suburban Detroit senior care center, for example, saw a spike in cases after it accepted two dozen positive patients from a local hospital one month after Whitmer’s order. While national Democrats lauded the governor for her strict coronavirus rules early on in the pandemic, Michigan now holds the fourth-highest death rate per 100,000 residents, according to the New York Times.
“We have now seen the true scope of Gov. Whitmer’s dangerous policies, and we must ensure these tragic circumstances do not happen again,” state representative Steve Johnson (R.), who requested the auditor’s report, said in a Thursday statement. “There is frankly a lot to answer for, and our legislative panel will be working to get those answers.”
A report by the New York Bar Association on the impact of the policy of admitting COVID-positive patients into nursing homes didn’t pull any punches. The report said in no uncertain terms that despite denials from Cuomo’s administration, the policy killed a lot of people who shouldn’t have died.
“Although a determination of the number of additional nursing home deaths is beyond the capacity of the Task Force, there are credible reviews that suggest that the directive, for the approximately six weeks that it was in effect, did lead to some number of additional deaths,” the report says.
“The Department of Health issued a report in 2020 in which it argued unconvincingly that the admission of 6,326 COVID-positive residents during the period the Health directive was in effect had no impact. That cannot be the case, and has now been shown not to be the case.”
The Department of Justice opened a preliminary investigation into Cuomo’s actions in March of 2021, but by July had decided not to pursue civil legal action. As for Whitmer, they are spinning the report as a difference of opinion on what constitutes a “death from COVID.”
Whitmer’s administration moved to dispute the report a week before its scheduled release. In a Sunday letter, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Elizabeth Hertel expressed “serious concerns” with the auditor’s findings, arguing that Ringler used “a different definition of a reportable long-term care COVID-19 death than required by the CDC.” Ringler’s report notes that his office “disagree[s] with some of the statements” made in the letter and defends its methodology.
Cuomo has resigned in disgrace as a result of a sexual harassment scandal. But Whitmer is on the ballot next November running for re-election. Will Michigan voters ignore her deadly incompetence and reward her with another term?