Tags: Coronavirus | gretchen whitmer | nursing homes | covid | deaths | michigan | pandemic

Gov. Whitmer Could Face Criminal Charges Over COVID Deaths, Michigan Prosecutor Says

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Jim Watson/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 March 2021 11:03 AM

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could face criminal charges over her decision to place coronavirus patients inside nursing homes early in the pandemic, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido told WXYZ.com.

Lucido said he is limited in his own probe into nursing home deaths, but if it is revealed there was "willful neglect of office" or "reckless endangerment of a person's life" criminal charges could result.

Lucido, a former Republican state senator, added that HIPAA laws prevent his office from receiving some patient information and thus appealed to those in the state who may have lost loved ones to the pandemic who were in nursing homes to try and obtain information about the deaths and take that to police in order to make a wrongful-death complaint.

Whitmer, a Democrat, issued a statement calling Lucido's allegations "shameful political attacks based in neither fact or reality."

Her office said that one of Lucido's former Republican colleagues said they "have not seen any evidence or testimony that says that a nursing home was forced to take someone against their will."

The statement stressed "the administration's policies carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives. Early in the pandemic, the state acted swiftly to create a network of regional hubs with isolation units and adequate PPE [personal protective equipment] to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a facility. In addition, we have offered 100 percent of nursing home resident priority access to the vaccine. Both the former head of AARP, as well as an independent U-M study, praised our work to save lives in nursing homes."

Last week, Michigan investigative journalist Charlie LeDuff told Fox News he is suing Whitmer after trying for months to get answers on coronavirus-related deaths that are connected to nursing homes.

Republican state legislators have called for probes into Whitmer's handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the early part of the coronavirus crisis, with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reportedly looking into the issue, according to ClickonDetroit.com.

"Gov. Whitmer's regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities," Michigan State Sen. Jim Runestad, who is spearheading the push for a probe, said last month

The GOP is also seeking an investigation into Michigan's separation deal for Robert Gordon, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services Director, according to The Detroit News.

Gordon said in December, before resigning, that he did not disagree with critics questioning the common sense of permitting positive patients to return to homes where they are isolated until they fully recover, but the "profoundly imperfect" strategy is "functioning reasonably well."

He also said allegations Michigan forced nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive patients from hospitals in the spring are "false," instead saying the department heard concerns last April about a provision in a Whitmer order and did not implement it.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could face criminal charges over her decision to place coronavirus patients inside nursing homes early in the pandemic, Macomb County...
gretchen whitmer, nursing homes, covid, deaths, michigan, pandemic
Tuesday, 09 March 2021 11:03 AM
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