How many COVID-related deaths occurred in Michigan nursing homes? Lawmakers, families want answers

No standard policy for reporting deaths

There is no standard policy for reporting how many COVID-related deaths have occurred in Michigan nursing home facilities.

DETROIT – There is no standard policy for reporting how many COVID-related deaths have occurred in Michigan nursing home facilities.

That has led to many lawmakers and families searching not only for answers, but responsibility.- Of the states more than 15,000 reported deaths from COVID-19, more than a third of those have been among residents of long-term care facilities -- according to state data.

Some think the numbers could be even higher. Lawmakers have requested state and federal investigations of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s policies as they are related to nursing home deaths.

READ: Michigan AG looks into requests to investigate state nursing home policy

Many families are simply left lost and alone as they search for answers to what happened to their loved ones. That’s the case for Anthony Messina. He lost his sister Mary last year to COVID when she was in a Macomb County nursing home.

He, like many others, is upset with Whitmer’s policy that placed people who were infected with COVID-19 in long-term care facilities -- putting others like his sister at risk.

“She never could leave the building and once she had it, and once she passed, everybody was just turning their heads to it. Like nobody was going to take accountability for the actions that happened,” Messina said.

Now, a year after the coronavirus crisis began. The outrage over how things were handled at nursing homes continues to grow. Not only were families kept in the dark, many times so were workers themselves.

READ: Michigan Gov. Whitmer stands by COVID nursing home policy amid threats of legal action

Sen. Jim Runestad is one of the lawmakers demanding answers from Whitmer’s office about nursing home deaths during the pandemic.

Sen. Dale Zorn is a lawmaker calling for a full state and federal investigation into the policy.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is looking into requests to investigate the state’s COVID-19 nursing home policy.

READ: More coverage from The Coronavirus Crisis: One Year Later

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About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.