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Michigan Official Offers Cavalier Response to Questions About Dangerous Nursing Home Policy

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Posted: May 14, 2020 11:00 AM

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients. According to local media, the state is paying these homes $5,000 per COVID-19 positive case they take. Despite the financial incentive, the order is unpopular and downright dangerous. Even Michigan Democrats recognize it.

“They said the population that would be most affected was our seniors so to not outfit those facilities to handle the very population they said would need it seems ridiculous to me,” Detroit State Rep. Leslie Love said.

“To return seniors into an environment, seniors with the virus still recovering from the virus, into an environment with, well, seniors, just didn’t seem - it’s not a good idea,” Love sounded off, adding that she's concerned for her own grandmother, who lives in a nursing home.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon wasn't all that helpful on Wednesday when lawmakers were trying to get answers about Whitmer's nursing home policy.

Gordon admitted that they are dealing with "a lot of data challenges" when it comes to the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes.

"We have data, I don't think they're at a level of accuracy at this point that we can really stand behind," he said.

"That number is COVID related deaths that have been reported, I do not stand behind that number as an accurate and full accounting of COVID related nursing home deaths and I wouldn't want us to present it that way," he added. "I think that number is probably, in fact, I'm confident that number is an undercount."

Okay, but he could at least tell them something right?

The Michigan Senate Oversight Committee grilled Gordon about the dangerous policy. They were shocked to find him so cavalier. Senator Lana Theis wanted more details about Gov. Whitmer's nursing home mandate but was met with the following glib response.

"Of course I understand your concern, senator," he said. "This is a world without perfect solutions."

Michigan Rising Action spoke for many Michigan residents when it said these replies are not good enough.

"Gov. Whitmer repeatedly says she is using facts and science to guide decisions but refuses to state what the facts and data are. The MDHHS Director admitted multiple times that they don't have accurate data seven weeks into the shutdown and a month after Whitmer's nursing home executive order," Tori Sachs, executive director of Michigan Rising Action, said in a statement. "It's time for Gov. Whitmer to be honest with Michiganders about what the data and facts really are and right now it appears they are incomplete at best."

Whitmer's order to create these "regional hubs" expires Wednesday. Local media have reached out to her office to determine whether she intends to renew the policy.