UPDATE: Department of Justice wants information on Gov. Whitmer’s response to COVID-19 in public nursing homes

Coronavirus

WASHINGTON (WLNS) – Federal officials are requesting information on COVID-19 orders that may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) requested the data today in a letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is evaluating whether to initiate investigations under the federal “Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act”

“We have not reached any conclusions about this matter,” states the letter to Gov. Whitmer from Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband. “In the Division’s many
years of enforcing CRIPA, the good faith efforts of state, county, or local jurisdictions
working with us have enabled us to resolve many matters amicably. We request the
above information within 14 days.”

The data request includes:

  1. The number of Public Nursing Home residents, employees, other staff, guests, and visitors
    who contracted COVID-19, regardless of where such persons contracted COVID-19.
  2. The number of Public Nursing Home residents, employees, other staff, guests, and visitors
    who died of COVID-19 including those who died in a Public Nursing Home or after being
    transferred to a hospital or other medical facility, hospice, home care, or any other location.
  3. All State-issued guidance, directives, advisories, or executive orders regarding admission
    of persons to Public Nursing Homes, including those previously superseded, as well as the
    dates each such document was in effect.
  4. The number of persons who were admitted to a Public Nursing Home from a hospital or
    any other facility, hospice, home care, or other location after testing positive for COVID19 during the period the guidance or orders were in effect.

Protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our seniors and most vulnerable residents has been a top priority throughout this crisis. The fact that this letter was sent during the middle of the Republican National Convention week to four Democratic governors should make it crystal clear that this is nothing more than election year politics by an administration that is more concerned with the president’s re-election campaign than protecting Michigan seniors. We will review this letter and respond as appropriate, however, Americans would all be better served if the Trump administration stopped the partisan games and focused on delivering a real plan to defeat COVID-19.

Statement issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Press Secretary Tiffany Brown

Brown’s comments on call the letter partisan and point out that it was mailed to four Democratic governors by President Trump’s Department of Justice.

In addition to Michigan, the orders were issued to governors from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

 This is nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention.  It’s no coincidence the moment the Trump administration is caught weakening the CDC’s COVID-19 testing guidelines to artificially lower the number of positive cases, they launched this nakedly partisan deflection. At least 14 states — including Kentucky, Utah, and Arizona — have issued similar nursing home guidance all based on federal guidelines – and yet the four states listed in the DOJ’s request have a Democratic governor.  DOJ should send a letter to CMS and CDC since the State’s advisories were modeled after their guidance.

Joint statement from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

The Civil Rights Division wants to determine if state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.

“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”

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