Preliminary Audit Results Find 800 Michigan Unreported COVID-19 Deaths

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.

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Michigan Changes COVID-19 Guidance for School Children

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Wednesday released new COVID-19 guidelines for students in public schools. 

The guidelines are not mandatory, and schools may choose whether to follow them. 

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Gov. Whitmer Obtains $13 Million for Michigan Rural Hospitals

Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) secured a $13 million grant from the federal government to support COVID-19 testing and mitigation in 51 small, rural hospitals.

“Our top priority is supporting the brave professionals on the frontlines of our health care industry in every corner of our state to ensure that they have what they need to protect themselves, their family, and their neighbors,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This funding will help rural hospitals continue serving their communities by expanding their COVID-19 testing capacity and mitigation efforts. I want to thank the nurses, doctors, and all medical professionals who continue to go above and beyond to keep people safe each and every day.”

Rural hospitals with fewer than 50 staff will be able to use the funds from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration for testing equipment, personnel, temporary structures, or education. Mitigation strategies must follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) community mitigation framework, including education, contact tracing, communication, and outreach. Each hospital will receive about $257,000 that must be spent within 18 months of receipt.

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Top Michigan Health Bureaucrat Inadvertently Admits Gretchen Whitmer Not ‘Following the Science’

When pressed Wednesday, the top health adviser to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) inadvertently admitted the governor is not “following the science,” per her opinion.

“Following the science” has been a staple of Whitmer’s talking points since the COVID pandemic began, but Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Whitmer’s chief medical adviser, was asked if she recommended Whitmer issue an order requiring masks in schools. Khaldun answered affirmatively, claiming, “it would likely decrease the spread of COVID-19 in schools.”

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Whitmer Vetoes Bill Exempting High Schools from Capacity Limits at Graduation

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) will not allow full capacity at high school graduation ceremonies this year, despite rapidly declining COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide. 

Thursday, she vetoed legislation that would have exempted high schools from the state’s 50 percent capacity limit on indoor gatherings, according to Detroit News.

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Whitmer Orders Two-Year-Olds to Wear Masks

As COVID-19 cases surge in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is expanding her mask mandate order to include toddlers.

“The mask requirement previously exempted children younger than the age of 5. Expanding the mask rule to children ages 2 to 4 also requires ‘a good faith effort to ensure that these children wear masks while in gatherings at childcare facilities or camps,'” according to The Detroit News.

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House Committee Subpoenas Former MDHHS Director over Secret Settlement

The saga over the departure and confidential settlement agreement between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and the former head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) continued Thursday. 

Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Steve Johnson (R-MI-72) announced in a press release that his committee has subpoenaed former MDHHS Director Robert Gordon, who received a $155,000 severance package from the state and signed a non-disclosure agreement after he left his post under murky circumstances late February. 

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Whitmer Makes Excuses as COVID Cases in Michigan Keep Soaring

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) appeared Sunday on NBC’s’ “Meet the Press” to make excuses about why cases of COVID-19 in Michigan are soaring while they decline across most of the rest of the country. 

“We’re now in a much different position,” Whitmer said. “On top of that, in the waning months, I have been sued by my Legislature. I have lost in a Republican-controlled Supreme Court. And I don’t have all of the exact same tools.”

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Michigan Senate Bill Would Codify Restaurant Closures During Pandemics

After a year of strict lockdowns imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Senate wants to codify rules for business closings in the event of another epidemic. 

“If this state has a test positivity rate of less than 3% for not less than 7 consecutive days or if less than 3% of hospital beds in this state are being used to treat individuals with coronavirus for not less than 7 consecutive days, the emergency order must not place a limitation on indoor dining occupancy or on a meeting or event held at the qualified establishment,” SB 250 says. 

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Whitmer Vetoes Bill That Would Have Curbed Agency’s Emergency Powers

Embattled Michigan Gov. Gretchen Wilson (D), facing scrutiny for secret deals made with departing state employees and her COVID-19 nursing home policies, vetoed a bill that would have limited the executive power of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Senate Bill 1 would have capped emergency pandemic orders by MDHHS at 28 days, causing them to automically expire unless they were ectended by the legislature. But Whitmer, who was long ago stripped of her emergency pandemic powers by the Michigan Supreme Court, veteod the bill, ensuring that her executive branch has unfettered power to give mandate emergency orders. 

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Whitmer Executive Order Says Secret Severance Pay Packages for State Employees Can Continue

In defiance of calls for transparency from state lawmakers, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is doubling down on the state’s policy of providing secretive severance packages to state officials.

In an executive directive, Whitmer states that agreements and payments can be used for a variety of purposes:

Separation agreements are used for many purposes, including to define the terms of employment during a period of transition; to secure the return of state property; and to mitigate legal exposure and potential costs to taxpayers through a release of claims against the state. (emphasis added)

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Michigan Republican House Rep Calls for Transparency in Former MDHHS Separation Deal

A Republican member of the state House of Representatives is calling for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to reveal to the public the agreement it had with former director Robert Gordon, who abruptly resigned on February 22. 

“I am calling on the Department today to release to the public the separation agreement between Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer’s administration and former MDHHS Director Robert Gordon as well as any other similar agreements made with other public officials,” state Rep. Steve Johnson (R-MI-72) said in Tuesday letter to MDHHS. 

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer Lifts Ban on Contact Sports After Lawsuit

  After being sued by a non-profit, high school athletes, and their families, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has lifted the state’s ban on contact sports. “And while it’s important that we remain cautious, and adhere to safety protocols to prevent this virus from spreading once more, thanks to our efforts…

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Michigan Health Director Resigns as Restaurants Set to Reopen

The top health official in Michigan has abruptly resigned as the state plans to reopen restaurants in the coming weeks, after months of strict lockdown orders.

“Today, I am resigning from the Whitmer Administration. It’s been an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues. I look forward to the next chapter,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said Friday on Twitter. 

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Governor Coy on if She Will Extend ‘Pause’ After Next Week

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday addressed an interim report on the Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities, but would not provide a direct answer to the question of whether she would extend the three-week pause on economic activity in the state.

More than two weeks after imposing a second lockdown of Michigan’s indoor dining facilities, theaters and bowling alleys, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services-imposed pause is due to expire next week.

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Opioid Overdoses Rise in State During Coronavirus Pandemic

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting significant increases in opioid overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MDHHS reported emergency medical services (EMS) in the state responded to a 33 percent increase in opioid overdoses from April to May of this year. The department adds that opioid overdoses increased by 26 percent from the prior year during the period between April and June. 

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Emergency Order Accelerates Notification to the State of Coronavirus Deaths in Michigan

An emergency order was issued late Saturday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that shortens the length of time coroner and funeral staff have to notify state officials when someone dies of COVID-19 to 24 hours.

“MDHHS is committed to protecting the public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I am issuing this emergency order,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said said in a statement.

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