by Scott McClallen
Preliminary results from Auditor Doug Ringler’s analysis of Michigan’s long-term care facility COVID-19 death data found about 800 additional confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths than the state initially counted overall statewide between Jan. 1, 2020, and July 3, 2021.
Ringler responded to a request from the Oversight Committee to investigate the accuracy of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ (MDHHS) COVID-19 death data in long-term care facilities. The request followed questions about the accuracy of MDHHS COVID-19 death data.
Ringler told Johnson he used death certificate information from the Electronic Death Record System and COVID-19 case and death data from the Michigan Disease Surveillance System (MDSS). The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services counts total COVID-19 deaths on their pandemic website using data from MDSS.
Ringler will use the analysis results of overall COVID-19 deaths and other state databases to determine the actual number of long-term care facility deaths due to COVID-19.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, said the report creates more questions going forward.
“The people of Michigan deserve to know the true cost of Governor Whitmer’s disastrous policy of placing COVID-positive patients into nursing homes,” Johnson said in a statement. “The Oversight Committee is intent on getting accurate data from an unbiased non-partisan source such as the Auditor General. Many people throughout the state have lost loved ones in nursing homes. While they were prohibited from visiting their loved ones, Gov. Whitmer was placing COVID-positive patients in these same facilities that were closed off to the families. We’ve seen in other states, like New York, where nursing home deaths were vastly underreported. I want to see if that is the case here, and I support the Auditor General’s ongoing work to get to the bottom of this.”
Johnson said the Auditor General’s final report is estimated to be completed by late November or early December.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.