As part of its Friday news dump, the Biden administration’s Justice Department announced that it would not investigate four Democratic governors who instituted policies which allegedly led to the deaths of tens of thousands of nursing home patients from COVID-19.
The DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs informed Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) that it would not launch an “investigation of any public nursing home facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time.”
Democratic Governors Andrew Cuomo, Phil Murphy, Tom Wolf, and Gretchen Whitmer required nursing homes in their respective states to admit patients who tested positive for COVID-19, despite the elderly being among the most susceptible to the virus. Last August, Trump Justice Department officials requested data to determine whether the governors’ orders “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents” in those four blue states.
“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said then-Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband at the time.
But the Biden DOJ announced that it had closed the matter. “We have reviewed the information provided by these states along with additional information available to the Department” and declined to take action, the Biden DOJ wrote to Scalise in a letter on Friday.
“Where is the justice for nursing home victims and their grieving families?” asked Rep. Scalise, the ranking Republican on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
While the Justice Department officially called off its investigation, the nation’s media seemingly did so long ago — especially as it pertained to Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer.
Not unlike Cuomo, Gretchen Whitmer ordered her state’s nursing homes at less than 80% capacity to admit COVID-positive individuals, paying them $5,000 per patient for their trouble. While nursing homes were asked to make “reasonable efforts” to separate COVID-19 patients from the rest of the facility, evidence suggests Whitmer knew this was not happening early into the pandemic. The official state tally lists 5,600 nursing home deaths from COVID-19, approximately 30% of the state’s total deaths from the virus.
But this number appears to significantly undercount COVID-19 deaths stemming from Whitmer’s orders for two reasons: Many facilities are not required to report their COVID-19 deaths, and the state has not used data from death certificates to gain a more complete count.
An investigation from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found that using the official cause of death may have raised the state’s number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths by 44%. That would mean an additional 3,100 such deaths statewide.
Whitmer has remained defiant, refusing Republicans’ requests to answer questions about her policy’s potentially deadly impact before Congress last summer and telling lawmakers to “refrain from encroaching on the sovereign power of a state government to deal with state matters.” Rep. Scalise accused her of “stonewalling” at the time.
Whitmer also raised eyebrows in March, when she gave state health director Robert Gordon a nine-month severance package, in return for signing a confidentiality agreement which silenced him from disclosing the reason he was let go. The muzzling came as Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido was considering filing charges against Whitmer for reckless endangerment or willful neglect.
But thus far, the governor has wriggled free of legal jeopardy at the state level. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) shut down talk of investigating her close ally’s handling of nursing homes in March. And Whitmer dismisses criticism of her performance as a “layer of misogyny.”
While a few news outlets ran news that the Biden administration would not probe these Democratic states, their readers would be hard-pressed to know why the issue mattered. Google searches seem to show that not a single story focusing specifically on Whitmer’s nursing home orders has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Reuters, NBC News, ABC News, or CBS News. Yet every one of those news outlets ran at least one article denouncing the COVID-19 policies of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R).
Whitmer had been considered a rising star inside her party. The Democratic Party chose Whitmer to deliver the official response to President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, and President Joe Biden reportedly considered Whitmer as his vice presidential running mate. The shadow hanging over her nursing home order, coupled with her serial violations of her own harsh lockdown orders, have already eroded her popularity in the state and could halt her national political ambitions.
Apparently, Gretchen Whitmer’s political career is one COVID-19 casualty the media could not bear.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.