It’s the question everyone is asking in Michigan now: Gretchen Whitmer is the Andrew Cuomo of the Midwest?
Washington Examiner reports…
It is no coincidence that two of the worst coronavirus outbreaks took place in states that failed to protect their vulnerable elderly populations. Both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer passed policies forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19-positive patients during the early days of the pandemic, and both states suffered as a result.
Cuomo has rightly come under immense scrutiny for not only passing this disastrous nursing home policy but attempting to cover up its effects by downplaying the true coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes. Whitmer, however, has largely escaped criticism. It’s time that changed.
A new report by Deadline Detroit’s Charlie LeDuff suggests Whitmer, like Cuomo, severely undercounted the coronavirus deaths in Michigan’s long-term care facilities. But unlike Cuomo’s administration, Whitmer’s seems to have no idea whatsoever just how many nursing home residents died as a result of COVID-19, LeDuff said. The reason why is because Michigan’s health department refused to require nursing homes to report coronavirus deaths publicly. Instead, long-term care facilities were asked to self-report all coronavirus deaths. But those numbers were never verified by state officials.
The state did conduct a study last summer with a limited sample to determine whether its vital records, meaning, records of life events kept under governmental authority, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates, included nursing home residents. Of the 1,468 vital records sampled from March 2020 through June 2020, 648 of those deaths were traced back to long-term care facilities, LeDuff reported. This means that during that time period, nearly half of all deaths in the state occurred in the state’s nursing homes.
Whitmer’s decision to send coronavirus patients into those facilities almost certainly contributed to that death toll. The problem is we might never know for sure just how many Michigan nursing home residents died during the pandemic because state health officials stopped reviewing vital records “due to how time-consuming it is and the amount of resources we need to devote to doing this,” according to Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Michigan state legislators ought to follow New York’s example and demand a thorough investigation into this report. It matters a great deal whether Whitmer’s nursing home policy unnecessarily cost the lives of elderly Michiganders, and the state must be able to identify how many people were affected so that it can adequately weigh the costs of Whitmer’s decision. Our government leaders must be held accountable for the poor policies they’ve passed, especially when those policies cost the lives of thousands of vulnerable citizens.
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