Michigan lawmaker calls Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policy ‘most idiotic thing we could come up with’

Policy puts COVID-19 positive patients in areas with non-coronavirus patients

LANSING, Mich. – A Michigan lawmaker whose mother has now tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s controversial nursing home policy that puts infected patients in the same facilities as negative patients is the “most idiotic thing we could come up with.”

Lawmakers are demanding changes to the policy, which was adopted early in the pandemic. It’s been dropped by many other states, including New York.

The issue took center stage Wednesday as lawmakers convened in Lansing.

The Senate Oversight Committee still wants more accountability and transparency from the Whitmer administration when it comes to COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

Chief Robert Gordon, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the governor backed off on some nursing home requirements that put positive patients in the same facilities as COVID-19 negative patients.

“All reasonable efforts established dedicated units and reasonable efforts are made in order to ensure separation for COVID-19 individuals within the facility,” Gordon said.

He reported some nursing home death numbers. As of Tuesday, 1,216 Michigan residents had died, which is 23% of the overall total. Gordon admitted that number is an undercount.

He then showed locally reported Metro Detroit health department numbers in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties as having 1,372 nursing home deaths, making up 33% of Michigan’s total.

Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) told the committee her mother, who lives in a regional hub, has now tested positive for COVID-19. She said she’s furious.

“Why the state of Michigan has chosen this path is beyond me,” Love said. “It seems like the most idiotic thing we could come up with.”

She quoted AARP numbers Local 4 independently confirmed. They show the median age of a COVID-19 patient who died is 77, and 87% of all Michigan deaths are in people 60 years and older.

Oversight committee member Sen. Pete Lucideo is also angry.

“It’s reckless disregard for human life,” Lucido said. “It’s negligent to allow it to continue, but it’s intentional now at this point.”

Lucido has proposed legislation to prevent COVID-19 positive patients from being housed in the same facilities as COVID-19 negative patients.

Love said she wants to do the same in the House.

Local 4 reached out to Whitmer’s office for a statement, but has not yet heard back.

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