A Democrat that imposed some of the nation’s strictest social distancing measures could face intense scrutiny, two Michiganders have warned.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer potentially faces a widespread inquiry resembling that of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo if she continues to withhold essential details on those she ordered to isolate in nursing homes.
Steve Delie and Charlie LeDuff, who are both suing Whitmer for the information, believe the governor’s negligence toward elderly residents was far worse than a similar policy that Cuomo rolled out across the New York.
“Gov. Whitmer made the same policy choice as Gov. Cuomo, forcing contagious senior citizens into close proximity with other medically vulnerable people,” they said in an opinion article published by USA Today. “In fact, her policy, a similar version of which is still in effect today, went even farther, forcing some non-senior patients into nursing homes, including a 20-year-old.”
Delie works as the policy lead for open government and transparency at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. LeDuff is an award-winning journalist and currently hosts the “No BS Hour with Charlie LeDuff” program.
They believe the governor should have been more transparent about her executive order called “Enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 (CCP Virus) pandemic.”
“It should not take a lawsuit to obtain this critical data,” the plaintiffs said. “Michigan citizens deserve to know why she did this and whether our governor is telling the truth about the consequences.”
On April 15, 2020, Whitmer announced that all nursing home staff must help isolate anyone infected by the CCP Virus, even if they are not an nursing home resident.
“A nursing home must make all reasonable efforts to create a unit dedicated to the care and isolation of COVID-19 (CCP Virus) affected residents,” the order said.
The order also defines a “long-term care facility” as a nursing home, home for the aged, adult foster care facility, or assisted living facility.
Delie and LeDuff accused Whitmer of taking advantage of a legal loophole to avoid fully disclosing the number of Americans who died in Michigan nursing homes.
“Michigan is one of only two states where the governor is exempt from Freedom of Information laws, and the only state where that exemption is written into statute,” they said. “Thanks to this exemption, the governor has no obligation to produce any records whatsoever, despite making decisions affecting the lives of every Michigander.”
The pair is also concerned Whitmer could have used her official post to influence the number of death cases reported across the Michigan, just like Cuomo allegedly did in New York.
“New York authorities, following pressure from the governor’s office, deliberately undercounted the number of patients forced back into nursing homes and the number of deaths that resulted,” they said. “The patient numbers were more than 40 percent higher, while deaths were more than 75 percent higher.”