Facing a situation similar to New York’s embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is now under scrutiny from prosecutors about COVID-19 deaths in Michigan’s nursing homes.
“If we find there’s been willful neglect of office if we find there’s been reckless endangerment of a person’s life by bringing them in then we would move forward with charges against the Governor,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido told WXZY. “Of course, we would. Nobody’s above the law in this state.”
Earlier this week, Michigan lawmakers asked federal law enforcement to investigate Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policies, which included using nursing homes as “hubs” for patients who tested positive for the virus. Elderly people are considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19, leading lawmakers to question the decision of putting sick patients in close proximity with them.
Cuomo faces a federal investigation for a similar policy in New York, and he allegedly covered up the number of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents.
Lucido, a former state senator, is asking Michiganders who lost loved ones in a nursing home to request the details about their deaths. HIPAA patient privacy laws prevent the prosecutor from obtaining that information himself.
Lucido asked the following rhetorical questions in his interview with WXZY.
“Why did my mom or why did my dad, brother, sister, or aunt die?” he said. “Was it because of the policy by bringing in COVID-infected patients that spread to my mom that killed my mother?”
Michigan’s Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel, a close ally of Whitmer’s, says there is no basis even for an investigation, though as of late February, more than one third of the state’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in nursing homes.
Whitmer’s offices provided a statement to WXZY:
Our top priority from the start has been protecting Michiganders, especially seniors and our most vulnerable. The administration’s policies carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives. Early in the pandemic, the state acted swiftly to create a network of regional hubs with isolation units and adequate PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a facility. In addition, we have offered 100 percent of nursing home resident priority access to the vaccine. Both the former head of AARP, as well as an independent U-M study, praised our work to save lives in nursing homes.
Mr. Lucido’s comments are shameful political attacks based in neither fact nor reality. Even his former colleague, Republican Sen. Ed McBroom, has said they “have not seen any evidence or testimony that says that a nursing home was forced to take someone against their will.” And there’s a reason why Mr. Lucido’s colleagues have publicly rebuked this politically-motivated waste of taxpayer dollars. Michiganders are tired of these petty partisan games, and we won’t be distracted by them either.
Lucido insists that the allegations are not political.
Whitmer has become notorious for her strict COVID-19 lockdown rules, which at one point banned gatherings in private residences before the state Supreme Court struck that order down, and stripped her of her emergency powers.
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