“The governor has faced tough criticism over her pandemic nursing home policy early on,” WDIV anchor Devin Scillian began the report. “Initially, COVID-positive patients were placed in the same facilities as COVID-negative patients. The governor ended that practice after the first six months of the pandemic.”
“And now there is growing scrutiny, with the prospect of lawsuits and other legal action,” anchor Kimberly Gill continued.
WDIV reporter Rod Meloni, who spoke with Whitmer one-on-one, relayed that the governor is “proud” of her administration’s COVID response, including her nursing home policy.
“Now that policy differed from that of Andrew Cuomo in New York in that he required patients to be sent … from the hospitals to the nursing homes. The governor [Whitmer] incentivized them by paying nursing homes more to take those COVID-positive patients,” Meloni continued.
During the interview, Whitmer told Meloni, “Here’s what we know: our policies saved a lot of lives in our nursing homes.”
“And a lot of Michiganders died in nursing homes,” Meloni told viewers. “The State of Michigan posts the long-term death rates online. The most current count puts the number at 5,537, more than 35% of all of Michigan’s COVID deaths.”
Meloni then reported that following the allegations that the Cuomo administration underreported nursing home deaths, “Local 4 filed a Freedom of Information request to ask about Michigan’s numbers.”
“It turns out, there aren’t any,” Meloni continued. “Our request came back with a denial of data stating quote, ‘there are no records of the location of death collected.'”
When asked why such data isn’t available, Whitmer responded that “we can parse through different angles” compared to other states but such an effort “can be a fool’s errand” since there was “never a national strategy,” making the comparing of “apples to apples” impossible.
The Michigan State Department of Health and Human Services clarified to WDIV that “nursing home patients who were transferred to the hospital and then died would be counted as nursing home deaths if they had not been discharged from the facility.”
Gill closed the segment by asking Meloni if Whitmer cited “any research” or “anything” that supports her assertion that her nursing home policy was the right one. Meloni told the anchor that the governor pointed to a University of Michigan study showing that nursing home deaths in her state were below the national average, as well as an AARP study that “gave her some praise.”
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