Michigan’s government oversight leader is beginning an investigation into Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s role in the high number of state nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
Auditor General Doug Ringler unveiled the investigation a week ago during hearings in the House Oversight Committee, where Republicans questioned the accuracy of Michigan’s coronavirus fatality data in long-term care facilities.
Some lawmakers speculate that the number of reported deaths is undercounted because the total does not include those who died in smaller or home-based facilities. Meanwhile, the state health director said facilities operate on a “self-reported” basis. State GOP Rep. Steve Johnson had urged Ringler in a letter last month to look into Michigan’s “underreported” senior citizen data.
“In our recent House Oversight Committee hearing, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Hertel admitted that because not all types of facilities are required to report deaths, not all have done so,” Johnson said, remarking upon Elizabeth Hertel’s testimony in which Hertel said she thinks the data is accurate regardless of the self-reported variable. “The number of long-term care facility deaths is likely higher than what is being reported.”
According to Ringler, the audit will be finished between late September and mid-October. As The Detroit News reported:
As of the week of June 30, the state reported about 4,216 resident deaths connected to a skilled nursing facility, 938 linked to homes for the aged and 526 linked to adult foster care facilities with more than 13 residents. Together, those deaths make up about 29% of Michigan’s 19,775 COVID-related deaths.
Whitmer has been consistently rebuked for her poor pandemic leadership. Like disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Michigan governor permitted COVID-19-positive patients to return to facilities in quarantine after exiting intensive care, as Fox News noted. She also received flak for flying to Florida on a private jet during lockdowns while unvaccinated and violating her stay-at-home orders several times.