UPDATED 6:00 PM PT – Sunday, March 21, 2021
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) is facing a nursing home scandal similar to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). According to reports Sunday, the state of Michigan faces a lawsuit over an executive order by Whitmer, which forced patients who had tested COVID-positive back into nursing homes in close proximity to other vulnerable residents.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Mackinac Center for Public Policy Official Steve Delie and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Charlie Leduff, claim Michigan has been too tight-lipped about the state’s true number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths. They pointed to the situation in New York, in which the state underreported thousands of nursing home deaths.
Plaintiffs said Gov. Whitmer has used a special law in Michigan that has exempted her office from having to comply with the Freedom of Information Act to hide the true impacts of her COVID-19 policies. In an October ruling in 2020, Michigan’s Supreme Court put an end to Whitmer’s emergency powers under the pandemic, which passed the COVID-19 decision-making and policies over to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Additionally, Delie and Leduff pointed out that, unlike Whitmer’s office, Michigan’s HHS is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Despite this, the two said Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services has refused to be transparent about how Michigan’s coronavirus numbers were derived.
As a result, the plaintiffs argued, although the state has published COVID-19 numbers, the public still has no way to verify if they are accurate. In the meantime, Michigan’s Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel has come under scrutiny for refusing to open an investigation.
Republicans said there are parallels between Whitmer’s handling of nursing homes and Gov. Cuomo’s, and that a probe needs to be used to make sure the state has accurately reported its data.
“All of these questions, [but] the attorney general says ‘nothing to see here, move along, move along,’” State Sen. Jim Runestad (R) stated. “And that didn’t happen in New York City. In New York City, they knew that there were some answers that had to be garnered and they went and did a proper investigation.”
State Republicans have considered appointing a special prosecutor to look into the matter.