by Debra Heine
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration drastically undercounted COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state, according to a state auditor general report reviewed by Fox News.
The damning report, which is expected to be released on Monday, reveals suspicious similarities to how former Democrat governor Andrew Cuomo hid nursing home deaths in New York.
Republican State Rep. Steven Johnson, the chairman of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, spoke with Fox News Digital in a telephone interview on Thursday. Whitmer [like Cuomo] is “well known” for her executive order “to place COVID-positive patients into nursing homes,” Johnson said.
“And when we were looking into this to see just how deadly that policy was, the nursing home death numbers we received from the department weren’t including everything,” Johnson said. According to the report, the administration undercounted nursing home deaths by 30 percent, although some reporters estimate the number is at least 40 percent.
According to a report by the New York State Attorney General’s Office last January, the N.Y. State Department of Health may have been undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent.
Johnson told Fox that there are “some serious questions that have to be asked” about the alleged undercounting, and that “it does appear the people of Michigan were misled as to just how many nursing home deaths there were” due to Whitmer’s fatally flawed COVID strategy.
“Seeing that it’s actually 30 percent higher is quite significant — we’re talking about thousands of lives that were not initially included in the department’s count,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that the MI House Oversight Committee “plans to hold hearings on this in the near future.”
Elizabeth Hertel, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, argued that the auditor general’s report is inaccurate because the analysis did not use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition of a long-term facility COVID death.
“A reportable long-term care COVID-19 death is defined by the National Healthcare Safety Network as a resident who died from COVID-19 related complications and includes resident deaths in the facility, and in other locations in which the resident with COVID-19 was transferred to receive treatment,” Hertel wrote.
“Residents not expected to return to the long-term care facility are excluded from the count. MDHHS has always required long-term care COVID-19 deaths be reported consistent with this standard set by the federal government,” she continued.
In other words, as blogger Ace of Spades points out, once a nursing home resident got so sick he/she had to be sent to the ICU—and then died—the state didn’t count that as a nursing home death.
” … once she’s gotten you so sick, due to her policy of cramming covid-positive patients in your room with you, that you’re finally sent to the ICU with little expectation that you’ll ever come back, she says you’re no longer a resident of the nursing home,” Ace wrote. “People who are not expected to return to the nursing home because they are expected to DIE are removed from the list of ‘nursing home residents’ to lower the numbers of ‘nursing home deaths.’”
Cuomo hid nursing home deaths in a similar fashion, according to N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James.
“Preliminary data obtained by OAG suggests that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in DOH’s published total nursing home death data,” a statement from the AG’s Office said.
Journalist Charlie LeDuff told Fox News that he believes the number of undercounted deaths in Michigan is probably higher than 30 percent.
“Three in 10 [bodies] went uncounted, according to the auditor general,” LeDuff told Fox News Digital in a Thursday email. “When added to the state’s total, death in Michigan’s long-term care facilities are in fact 42 percent higher than are being reported, which makes Whitmer’s Michigan no better than Cuomo’s New York.”
Republicans looking to unseat Whitmer this year took aim at the scandal-embroiled governor, with candidate Tudor Dixon telling Fox News in a Thursday phone call that the Michigan governor is “worse than” disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Dixon said she was “not surprised” by the damning data, saying Whitmer’s administration was “warned very early on that they were going to end up with a massive amount of nursing home deaths and long term care deaths.”
“And they admitted months ago they stopped counting because it was too time-consuming,” Dixon continued, calling the undercounted deaths “pure incompetence” from Whitmer’s administration.
Dixon also said that she believes Whitmer should “absolutely” be investigated over the fudged data and that the governor’s policies “hurt more people than we’ll ever know.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Detroit police chief James Craig also torched Whitmer, telling Fox News that what is already being revealed about the report is “deeply disturbing.”
“I want to see the final auditor general’s report, but what we are hearing is deeply disturbing,” Craig said. “If it’s true that Gov. Whitmer’s administration significantly under-counted nursing home deaths, it’s something she must explain to Michiganders.”
“I will have more to say once this report is released,” Craig continued.
Michigan Freedom Fund executive director Tori Sachs told Fox News in a statement that “Whitmer’s decision to import COVID-19 into our nursing homes was unscientific, and it was deadly.”
“Instead of trying to provide answers for the families who lost loved ones in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, Governor Whitmer and her administration are more concerned with political spin and covering up that they underreported deaths by 42%,” Sachs said.
“These were people’s lives — not data points — that the Whitmer administration chose to ignore,” she continued. “There must be a thorough investigation and accountability for Governor Whitmer’s failure to protect Michigan’s most vulnerable residents.”
Ace of Spades said he suspects “they were all on the same phone call coordinating their response: Cuomo, Whitmer, Murphy, and Wolf.”
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Debra Heine reports for American Greatness.
Photo “Gov. Whitmer” by University of Michigan’s Ford School CC 2.0.