A report from Michigan’s auditor general set to be released next week reportedly shows that Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by 30%.
Auditor General Doug Ringler has been investigating a policy Whitmer passed during the early days of the pandemic that forced nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients and whether this policy contributed to more deaths than the state has admitted. His report is expected to show that the number of deaths has been severely undercounted by Whitmer’s administration, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan Republicans slammed Whitmer for the “sizable and shocking undercount.”
“The number reported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration was 30% lower than what the Auditor General has found. Make no mistake – this is a large discrepancy, and the report makes that clear,” Michigan House Oversight Committee Chairman Steven Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson added that his committee plans to investigate Ringler’s findings and hold Whitmer’s administration accountable. “There is frankly a lot to answer for, and our legislative panel will be working to get those answers,” he said.
Whitmer’s office, however, is already denying the report’s findings. The state’s Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a letter on Wednesday that Ringler’s findings are inaccurate.
“I continue to have serious concerns about both the methodology employed to compare long-term care facilities’ self-reported data to death certificate data from Michigan’s Electronic Death Registry System and COVID-19 case and death data from the Michigan Disease Surveillance System, as well as the conclusions you’ve drawn from this review,” Hertel wrote to Ringler.
“I fear that your letter will be misinterpreted to question the work and integrity of long-term care facilities, local health departments, coroners, and other frontline workers who we rely on to report data,” she claimed.
The new tally of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes reported by Ringler includes residents who were discharged from long-term care facilities before their deaths, as well as those who died in hospitals while COVID-positive.