Eight Republican Michigan state senators sent letters to acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Wednesday demanding investigations into Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes.
Residents of Michigan’s long-term care facilities represent 5,549 of the 16,436 suspected and confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic, according to the state’s latest available reporting. The GOP lawmakers requested Nessel and Wilkinson investigate whether Whitmer’s April 15 executive order, which prohibited nursing homes in most cases from barring admission to residents who were previously hospitalized with the virus, contributed to the death toll.
Whitmer issued an additional executive order in late May that allowed nursing homes to accept patients from hospitals even if they were still contagious with the virus, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Whitmer’s orders did contain some noteworthy exceptions for nursing homes. For example, her orders required Michigan nursing homes to only accept patients previously hospitalized with COVID-19 only if they were below 80% capacity and had an isolation unit dedicated to the care of such patients.
Michigan nursing homes that did not meet those requirements were required under Whitmer’s orders to transfer COVID-positive patients to a regional hub or a hospital in the state with available bed capacity.
State Sen. Jim Runestad, who spearheaded the letters, said Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19 in Michigan nursing homes shares close similarities to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the virus in his state’s long-term care facilities.
“There are too many similarities between what happened in New York and what’s happened here in Michigan not to open an investigation. The families who lost loved ones deserve to know what happened and to get justice,” Runestad told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“At a time when we knew how dangerous the virus was to our seniors, the Whitmer administration ignored advice from medical experts and the nursing home industry, and put COVID patients into nursing homes with our most vulnerable,”