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Tipsheet

Why Is Michigan Sticking with Destructive Nursing Home Policies, While Declining to Release Key COVID Data?

Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool

A follow-up on this post from earlier, which I nearly tacked on as an update but decided is worthy of a brighter spotlight and a separate piece. I've already quoted healthcare policy expert Avik Roy on the unfolding humanitarian disaster in American nursing homes and long-term care facilities, to which a hugely disproportionate percentage of US Coronavirus deaths can be traced back -- an issue we've covered closely for weeks. A serious contributor to this ongoing disaster were policies implemented by the governments of some of the country's most-afflicted states. Infamously, New York allowed nursing home employees who tested positive for the virus to come into work, so long as they weren't symptomatic, which is definitively not synonymous with contagious. Worse, the state mandated that these facilities admit COVID-positive residents after being discharged from hospitals.

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The result has been thousands of deaths, as these elder care homes have turned into ravaged hotspots. The state of New York finally reversed its policies, quietly changed how it 'counted' nursing home deaths, and attempted to scrub the web of the offending orders. The state's governor has tried to blame the president for his own decisions (he should be seeking advice from Florida's governor, rather than casting aspersions elsewhere) and faulting nursing homes for abiding by his edicts. But at least Gov. Cuomo has abandoned terrible, lethal, unworkable policies. On my Fox News Radio show yesterday, I interviewed Roy, who noted that Michigan still hasn't pulled the plug on coercing these facilities to take in infected seniors -- and that the statewide nursing home COVID death toll remains shrouded in mystery because Michigan is not reporting those statistics. This is astounding:


Sure enough, if you look at this map, Michigan is a gray box because they're not reporting data. Our full on-air conversation is available here, which includes more details. Several people noted that Gov. Whitmer has updated and extended her unworkable policy, and that the state has released a trickle of woefully insufficient data. Conservative writer A.G. Hamilton argues that these examples of Whitmer's erratic and irresponsible governance are hardly isolated:

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Then there's the hypocrisy and entitlement angle involving her husband. Whitmer has been on an extended national media tour, almost exclusively receiving deferential-to-glowing coverage. She's been framed as a competent, aww-shucks, midwestern 'anti-Trump,' who's just getting the job done. Setting aside her excused/celebrated partisan pandering, it is indefensible to continue to lavish positive coverage upon politicians whose actual results are undeniably problematic. It's also undeniable that this coverage is driven heavily by the protective (D) next to names like Whitmer and Cuomo; because they strike a certain tone, and scratch certain itches, and hold 'correct' policy positions, the media is smitten. But results matter. If President Trump is accountable for federal failures (achievements get largely overlooked and diminished), the same must apply to governors.

I'll leave you with this counterfactual: If, say, Brian Kemp or Ron DeSantis were sticking with failed policies that have proven to be leading to many deaths -- not predicted to do so, but actually doing so -- while also withholding highly relevant data pertaining to those deaths (again, not bogusly alleged to be doing so, but actually doing so), what would the coverage look like? We all know the answer. For the sake of Michigan's vulnerable populations, especially seniors, the media must do its job in pressing the governor for answers and action. Lives are quite literally at stake.

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