Michigan Gov. Whitmer defends placing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes with healthy residents

Health officials say more than one-third of state’s COVID-19 deaths came in nursing homes

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is continuing to defend her policy that places patients who test positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in nursing homes with healthy residents.

Officials with the Michigan Health Department said more than one-third of the state’s nearly 6,000 coronavirus deaths came from nursing homes.

Whitmer has admitted in the past that if she had a time machine, there are ways she would handle the situation differently.

But on Tuesday, she spoke with Local 4′s Rod Meloni and doubled down on her policy, saying there’s not a strong alternative.

“We’ve made decisions on the best science available in the moment,” Whitmer said. “I don’t know if you can ask anyone to do better than that.”

Whitmer said she isn’t changing her policy, instead ordering all nursing home patients and staff members to get tested.

She said she’ll also keep her regional hubs.

“That appeared to be the best practice with the science information we had, and that is why we pursued it,” Whitmer said.

READ: Here’s everything that’s reopening this week in Michigan

Florida, which has a much larger senior population, decided not to commingle COVID-19 positive patients with COVID-19 negative seniors.

Michigan Sen. Pete Lucideo said Florida officials understood the risk. He now has a bill that would keep the positive patients out of Michigan nursing homes.

“I’d like to hear what data was relied on to pick nursing homes to bring COVID-19 patients to infect those that weren’t infected, to kill those loved ones of almost 2,000 -- that that’s what the federal government says,” Lucido said.

The Centers for Medicare Services said 2,297 Michiganders died from the coronavirus in nursing homes, which is 350 more than the state is reporting.

Lucido wants Whitmer to dedicate one facility for recovering COVID-19 patients.

“It is maybe something we could have done, however, the incredible, herculean undertaking that would have been to do it right would have taken time and would not have been a perfect solution,” Whitmer said.

About the Authors: