Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a Republican bill on Friday that would have kept coronavirus patients out of nursing homes and placed them in entirely separate facilities — an effort aimed at protecting those most vulnerable to developing serious complications from the coronavirus, which originated in China.
“The bill was a direct challenge to the Whitmer administration’s current handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has focused on caring for those with the virus in isolated spaces of existing homes,” The Detroit News reported. “About 33% of the state’s deaths linked to the virus have been nursing home residents or employees, according to state data.”
Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) blasted Whitmer’s decision to not take more action to protect vulnerable seniors in nursing homes, which “account for more than 41 percent of the country’s pandemic fatalities,” according to The New York Times.
“I am very disappointed and saddened that the governor vetoed this extremely important and commonsense legislation,” Lucido said in a statement. “Politics should not prevail over the health and safety of our seniors and health care workers, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate and House to consider passing a veto override. We owe this to our citizens, especially the seniors and vulnerable members of our communities who cannot speak for themselves.”
Whitmer said in a letter Friday that she vetoed the bill (SB 956) because it “is based on the false premise that isolation units created within existing facilities are somehow insufficient to protect seniors — a claim unsupported by the data and refuted by the nation’s highest authorities on infectious disease.” She also insists in the letter that she has taken steps to protect nursing home residents “from day one.”
Whitmer has been embroiled in controversy throughout much of the coronavirus pandemic on issues ranging from her husband asking for special treatment to awarding taxpayer funded contracts to Democrat political groups, which she had to rescind after public backlash.
Whitmer faced criticism in late May “after her husband reportedly sought special treatment in trying to get his boat placed on the water in an area of the state that she specifically urged people not to go to if they did not live there,” The Daily Wire reported. Whitmer’s office initially responded to the controversy by saying that they do not discuss matters related to her family and dismissed the story as a “rumor.”
However, after backlash continued to mount, Whitmer finally addressed the situation and claimed that her husband was just joking.
Whitmer also stonewalled efforts from Republican members of Congress to testify about the significant coronavirus death toll among nursing home residents in her state.
Whitmer, who said in mid-May that those who were protesting must adhere to social distancing guidelines, was caught not social distancing while marching with Black Lives Matter activists.
Whitmer said of anti-lockdown protesters during an interview on May 13:
They are congregating, they are not wearing masks. They are not staying six feet apart. And then they go back home into communities and the risk the perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 is real. We’ve seen it happen. And that’s why, I respect people’s right to dissent, they need to do it in a way that is responsible and does not put others at risk … Anyone who is contributing to people not observing best practices and endangering others is undermining all that work … and run the very real risk of a second wave.
Photos then emerged of her not social distancing during the protests in early June.