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DOJ To See If States Contributed To COVID-19 Nursing Home Disasters

‘Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,’ said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband.


The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is requesting data from states like New York to determine if a civil rights investigation should be conducted into COVID-19 spread in nursing homes.

“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”

The DOJ examination will determine whether an official investigation will occur under the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), “which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others.” 

“The Civil Rights Division seeks to determine if the state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents,” the statement reads.

While the statement clarifies that these data requests are “not accusations of fault or wrongdoing by the states or any other individual or entity and the department has not reached any conclusions about these matters,” the request singles out New York and New Jersey as COVID-19 hotspots, comparing their case and death numbers unfavorably to Texas and Florida’s.

The statement notes that despite having a smaller population than Texas and Florida, New York and New Jersey’s COVID-19 deaths per million people have been extremely high in comparison. The statement also notes that both Texas and Florida had “many more recorded cases” than either of the other states and still maintained a lower death rate.

“New York’s death rate by population is the second-highest in the country with 1,680 deaths per million people. New Jersey’s death rate by population is 1,733 deaths per million people – the highest in the nation,” it says. “In contrast, Texas’s death rate by population is 380 deaths per million people; and Texas has just over 11,000 deaths, though its population is 50 percent larger than New York and has many more recorded cases of COVID-19 – 577,537 cases in Texas versus 430,885 cases in New York. Florida’s COVID-19 death rate is 480 deaths per million; with total deaths of 10,325 and a population slightly larger than New York.”

In March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York issued a mandate requiring COIVD-19-positive patients to return from hospitals to their nursing homes. Other governors such as Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer mimicked his order.