Auditor general report sparks controversy over COVID nursing home deaths in Michigan

Released findings claim state undercounted COVID nursing home deaths

A report from the office of the Auditor-General claims the state undercounted the number of deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic.

DETROIT – A report from the office of the auditor general claims Michigan undercounted the number of deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic.

The state’s auditor general’s office announced last July that it would study the reported and unreported deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. With some findings released, the dispute has already turned political, with Michigan Republicans blasting Governor Gretchen Whitmer for what may have led to the difference in findings.

“A 30% increase over what we initially thought, that’s very troubling,” said Rep. Steven Johnson. ”I think the people in Michigan deserve better.”

Johnson acts as the House oversight committee chair and blames Gov. Whitmer’s policies for the numbers being so different in the first place.

“This is something you’ll look back to the early days of the pandemic, when there’s a policy that places COVID positive patients into nursing homes,” Johnson said. “We didn’t know a lot about the disease, but most people understood that’s a vulnerable population that we have to keep protected, and that decision really just didn’t make a lot of sense.”

Health Director Elizabeth Hertel released a five-page letter on behalf of the state, explaining how the difference in numbers is made up of inaccuracies and a misinterpretation of data. Either way, Rep. Johnson says there could have been more done to prevent deaths like this in the first place.

More: Whitmer admin disputes pending report on Michigan nursing home deaths

The final report is expected to be released on Monday.

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.