Move over Cuomo, Gov. Whitmer facing calls for investigation over nursing home deaths in Michigan

Republicans in Michigan are calling for an investigation into Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of nursing homes and eldercare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Letters spearheaded by state Sen. Jim Runestad which were signed by seven other GOP state senators request that acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson and Democratic Michigan Attorney General Nessel say Whitmer’s actions likely led to increased nursing home deaths, Fox News reported.

“Gov. Whitmer’s regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities,” Runestad said earlier this week in a statement.

“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.”

The state senators note in their letters that coronavirus infections and deaths in Michigan “have soared” since the pandemic began while Whitmer’s government had “been questioned about unintended consequences” of policies she implemented.

The senators also pointed out what they called “discrepancies” between actual numbers of COVID cases and the official death rate “in the state’s long-term care facilities.”

“It has now come to our attention that these reporting errors have likely not been resolved,” the senators wrote. “Gov. Whitmer’s regional hub policy put patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities.

“And, due to reporting failures, there will be no accurate data on how many residents may have been harmed by the administration’s policies because there is no clear reporting path to document nursing home patient cases by facility after a transfer takes place,” the letter added.

Republicans clashed most of last year with Whitmer over her COVID-19 policies, mostly her enduring stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on business activity. 

In May, U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan, a Republican, filed a lawsuit against Whitmer claiming she lacked authority under state law to perpetuate lockdowns beyond an initial 30-period.

“I think we need to clarify the extent of what an emergency is and the extent of those powers and re-enforce that people have constitutional rights,” he said at the time.

State Republicans also filed suit against Whitmer a week later after she extended a stay-at-home order just hours before it was set to expire. 

In October, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Whitmer overextended her authority in issuing months’ worth of lockdowns, saying any orders issued after April 30 “lack any basis under Michigan law.”

The following month, three Michigan state House Republicans filed four articles of impeachment against Whitmer, but the effort thus far has not gone anywhere.

In their letters, the state GOP senators said they seek a “full investigation” of Whitmer’s nursing home policies during the pandemic.

Their call comes as pressure mounts on another Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo of New York, over his order requiring nursing homes in his state to accept COVID-sickened patients, which critics say led to thousands of deaths in eldercare facilities.

Also, his own attorney general, Letitia James, also a Democrat, released a report in late January that said investigators discovered his administration undercounted nursing home COVID deaths by 50 percent. 

And earlier this month, his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, admitted to state Democrats on a phone call his administration hid the number of nursing home deaths over fears of a federal investigation by the then-Trump administration.

Cuomo is also facing calls for impeachment over his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, as well as new criticism following claims of sexual harassment by two former aides.


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