Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff formally referred Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to committee on Monday for an investigation into how the executive handled the early days of the novel Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
“While we are hopeful that an end to this pandemic may be in sight, we cannot stop asking questions about the government’s role in containing the spread of the virus,” Benninghoff wrote in a Monday statement, highlighting the governor’s March 18 order, which preceded a similar order by neighbor New York’s Andrew Cuomo jamming COVID-infected patients into nursing homes.
“More than 12,700 Pennsylvanians died in nursing homes — over half of Pennsylvania’s virus-related deaths — and, to date, families across the Commonwealth have not received answers as to why and whether or not government orders contributed to the spread of the virus in these facilities,” Benninghoff said as he sent the formal investigation to the House Government Oversight Committee.
While we are hopeful that an end to this pandemic may be in sight, we cannot stop asking questions about the government’s role in containing the spread of the virus.
— Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (@RepBenninghoff) March 15, 2021
Wolf issued guidance to nursing home facilities housing the population’s most vulnerable age group, barring them from refusing to admit COVID-positive patients.
“Nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable,” the order read. “This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus.”
Wolf’s directive came just one week before similar orders were passed down from Gov. Cuomo, whose office was recently caught falsifying COVID-19 death data to undercount the severity of the policy’s devastation on long-term care facilities. Cuomo, also hampered by half a dozen women making allegations of sexual misconduct, faces calls from prominent members of his own party to resign and threatened by an impeachment if he does not.
Other governors hailed as liberal lockdown heroes who also passed down orders to place COVID-infected patients into nursing homes are now taking heat for the deadly directives.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who signed an order on April 15 demanding long-term care facilities “must not prohibit admission or readmission of a resident based on COVID-19 testing requirements or results,” faces potential criminal charges. Whitmer’s Department of Health and Human Services is stonewalling Freedom of Information requests for data that could reveal the impact Whitmer’s order had on COVID deaths in nursing homes.
In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s office was warned his nursing home directive would kill people.
“The conversation was tense,” NJ.com reported this weekend about a March 31, 2020 conference call when New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli was giving instructions to admit COVID patients into long-term care facilities.
While she made it clear that they would be required to assign separate staff and separate them from other residents — or to let the state know right away if that was not possible — the exasperation on the other end of the phone was palpable.
‘Patients will die,’ an unidentified administrator declared, according to a recording of the outspoken meeting obtained by NJ Advance Media. ‘You understand that by asking us to take COVID patients, by demanding we take COVID patients, that patients will die in nursing homes that wouldn’t have otherwise died had we screened them out.’
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and California Gov. Gavin Newsom also handed down similar edicts in their own states. Newsom now faces a recall election where organizers will submit more than two million signatures needed Wednesday to put a contest on the calendar later this year.