New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not the only governor with a nursing home problem. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proven to be just as eager to enact policies that put seniors at risk of contracting the coronavirus. Way back when Michigan reported its first COVID cases, the Health Care Association of Michigan made a reasonable suggestion for the governor. They asked her to move infected nursing home residents to vacant facilities, which could be used as quarantine centers. But Whitmer insisted that the best approach would be to keep COVID patients in "isolated" areas still inside the nursing homes.
Nursing home deaths climbed. A total of 38,000 residents were living in nursing homes, with 1,947 deaths reported. Put in a more startling perspective, about 33 percent of the state's COVID-related deaths have been nursing home residents or employees. Sen. Peter Lucid (R-Shelby Township) had seen enough and introduced a measure, Senate Bill 956, to finally move COVID patients to separate facilities. Whitmer vetoed it on Friday.
In a letter defending her veto, Gov. Whitmer said that the bill was based on "the false premise that isolation units created within existing facilities are somehow insufficient to protect seniors."
"Instead of protecting seniors, this bill would require the state to create COVID-19-only facilities, forcing hospitals and many nursing homes to send COVID-19-positive patients to such facilities without any requirement for consent, doctor approval or notification to the patient or their family," she added. "The legislation fails to explain how such facilities would be staffed or paid for, or how frail residents would be protected during the potentially traumatic transfer from one facility to another."
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) didn't accept her reasoning and said that her veto was "sickening."
First Whitmer ordered COVID patients into nursing homes—killing thousands of seniors.— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) August 2, 2020
Then she tried to cover it up.
Now she vetoed a bill directing COVID patients away from nursing homes.
Sickening. She must be held accountable for her deadly actions. https://t.co/p11jdprFKc
Rep. Scalise has been one of the leading lawmakers to demand an independent investigation into Gov. Cuomo's nursing home mandate, which forced long-term care facilities to accept COVID patients who had been discharged from the hospital, likely leading to thousands of untimely deaths. The investigation conducted by the New York State Department of Health, which concluded that the policy had no significant impact on the number of nursing home deaths and blamed nursing home staffers instead, was roundly dismissed as a joke.