A Republican Michigan state representative has accused Democratic Gov Gretchen Whitmer of undercounting the number of deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic – by as much as 30 percent.
In a statement released Wednesday, Rep. Steven Johnson slammed an upcoming report detailing the death toll at long-term health facilities in the state, set to be released to the public Saturday by the state’s auditor general.
In the scathing statement, the Republican accused Whitmer of manipulating the data to cover a mess created by her early-pandemic policies, and affirming that residents deserve to know the truth.
According to current data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there were 6,216 resident deaths have been linked to COVID-19 in Michigan’s licensed long-term care homes – which include skilled nursing facilities as well as adult foster care and homes for the aged.
The charge leveled at the high-profile Democrat echoes the scandal created by then-New York Gov Andrew Cuomo after his administration admitted fudging the number of deaths in health care facilities.
In a statement released Wednesday, Rep. Steven Johnson slammed an upcoming report detailing the death numbers of long-term health facilities in the Great Lakes State set to be released to the public Saturday by the state’s auditor general
‘While I am eager to thoroughly review the full report,’ Johnson wrote, ‘what has been made clear is a sizable and shocking undercount of COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities in Michigan.’
Johnson, the head of the state’s House Oversight Committee, went on to reveal that he had received a letter from the Michigan Department of Health contradicting the Auditor General’s findings.
In the letter, according to Johnson, the government agency claimed that a previous tally of COVID-19 nursing home deaths done by state officials was an astounding 30 percent lower than what the auditor general’s office found.
‘The number reported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration was 30 percent lower than what the Auditor General has found,’ Johnson wrote.
‘A 30% increase over what we initially thought,’ the Republican went on. ‘That’s very troubling.’
The scathing statement specifically honed in on the state’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer, with Johnson accusing the democrat of manipulating data to cover up a mess created by her early-pandemic policies of housing COVID-positive patients at some long-term health facilities
He added: ‘As chair of the House Oversight Committee, I believe it is my duty to uncover the truth for the people of Michigan – while providing them with needed accountability and transparency as it pertains to their state government.
‘Not just for those who are Republicans or those who are Democrats. All people. That is why I sought this audit.
‘I think the people in Michigan deserve better.’
An official report from the state is set to release next week detailing the number of deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic. Johnson asserts that the report’s findings are inaccurate
In the brazen bulletin, Johnson blamed Whitmer’s office for the inconsistency, criticizing her policies early in the pandemic of housing COVID-positive patients at some long-term health facilities.
‘Our committee will continue to look at why there was this discrepancy, as well as what changes are needed to ensure future reporting reflects precision instead of polling numbers.
‘We have now seen the true scope of Gov. Whitmer’s disastrous policies, and we must ensure these tragic circumstances do not happen again. There is frankly a lot to answer for, and our legislative panel will be working to get those answers.’
The Democrat governor came under federal scrutiny back in 2020, after DOJ officials working under then-President Donald Trump alleged Whitmer and other Democratic governors ‘issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.’
The department requested documents from Whitmer’s office surrounding the policies in August, but dismissed the prospective probe nearly a year later last July under Biden’s administration.
Now, Johnson’s claims shine new light on the abandoned investigation.
Johnson’s claims shine new light on a prospective federal investigation into Whitmer’s office surrounding the policies, which was announced by the DOJ in 2020 under then-President Donald Trump but was abandoned nearly a year later under the Biden Administration
‘This is something you’ll look back to the early days of the pandemic, when there’s a policy that places COVID positive patients into nursing homes,’ Johnson said in his statement Wednesday.
‘We didn’t know a lot about the disease, but most people understood that’s a vulnerable population that we have to keep protected, and that decision really just didn’t make a lot of sense.’
He continued: ‘This was important information to gather for those throughout our state who have loved ones and relatives in nursing homes and are scared, and sadly those who lost friends and family to COVID-19 while inside a nursing home or other long-term care facilities.’
‘Make no mistake – this is a large discrepancy, and the report makes that clear.’
The director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Hertel, concurred with Johnson’s analysis Wednesday, saying in an official response to the to-be-released report’s prospective findings that the auditor general’s report is not deemed accurate.
The director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Hertel, concurred with Johnson’s analysis Wednesday, saying in an official response to the to-be-released report’s prospective findings that the auditor general’s report is not deemed accurate
In her piece, Hertel pointed out that the analysis from the state auditor – a position currently filled by Doug Ringler, who’s served in the position since 2014 – does not apply the CDC definition of a COVID-19 death reportable by a long-term care facility.
‘A reportable long-term care COVID-19 death is defined by the National Healthcare Safety Network as a resident who died from COVID-19 related complications and includes resident deaths in the facility, and in other locations in which the resident with COVID-19 was transferred to receive treatment,’ she said in the letter.
‘Residents not expected to return to the long-term care facility are excluded from the count. MDHHS has always required long-term care COVID-19 deaths be reported consistent with this standard set by the federal government.’
As of Wednesday, Michigan has seen an average of approximately 20,000 COVID cases daily
The final report is expected to be released on Monday.
The revelation comes as Michigan hospitals have found themselves swarmed by COVID patients in recent months, with many are having trouble dealing with stress put on the state’s health care system.
Since the emergence of the Omicron variant, the state has seen hospitalizations and case rates rise to levels surpassing those seen at the height of the pandemic in spring of 2020, with an average of 4,838 residents admitted to Michigan hospitals each day, according to The New York Times.
COVID-related deaths have also risen drastically as well in recent months to early pandemic levels according to the paper, with 108 deaths on average per days.
As of Wednesday, more than 30,000 Michigan residents have succumbed to the disease, with an average of nearly 20,000 cases recorded daily.
Since the emergence of the Omicron variant, the state has seen hospitalizations and case rates rise to levels surpassing those seen at the height of the pandemic in spring of 2020
COVID-related deaths have also risen drastically as well in recent months to early pandemic levels according to the paper, with 108 deaths on average per days. As of Wednesday, more than 30,000 Michigan residents have succumbed to the disease