LASATA: Calls for investigation into nursing home coronavirus-related deaths intensifying

The governor of New York is currently embroiled in multiple controversies, one of which is for the state’s intentional underreporting of nursing home resident deaths caused by COVID-19.

An investigation by the state’s attorney general (one that received bipartisan support) found New York undercounted the number of deaths in nursing home facilities by more than 50 percent.

Michigan, at the direction of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, or at least with her consent, was one of only a few states like New York that brought COVID-19-positive people into nursing homes as a matter of policy. To date, 36 percent of our state’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred among nursing home and long-term care facility populations. Despite the horrific statistic and months of frustration and questioning by Republican lawmakers and others, the Whitmer administration has defended the policy.

In September, when I asked the governor’s then-director of the Department of Health and Human Services why it took so long to form a task force to find ways to keep nursing home residents safe, he responded, “We were busy.”

I hope Attorney General Dana Nessel isn’t too busy to respond to calls for an official investigation into the Whitmer policy, which have so far been ignored. Families deserve answers as to how and why they lost their loved ones in what was supposed to be a safe environment.

It is time that the governor’s party faithful reconsider who or what is more important — politics or people in nursing homes — and join in calling for an investigation.

Even then, it might just be time, like in New York, for the FBI to do what state Democrats won’t: seek justice for Michigan’s nursing home victims of COVID-19.

 

Kim LaSata, R, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties. She can be reached at (517) 373-6960 or SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov.

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