Now, Whitmer could face nursing home death charges

First, it was Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo who faced charges that he’s responsible for the deaths of nursing home patients in New York state.

Now it looks like Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan will be the second governor to face that charge.

The new prosecutor of Michigan’s Macomb County, Peter Lucido, says people who lost loved ones to COVID as residents or staff in nursing homes should obtain the vital information about the circumstances of the deaths and make a complaint to police of wrongful death.

Lucido explains that with HIPAA laws, he can’t get that information in his own investigation.

Cuomo is currently under investigation for allegedly doctoring the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes. He’s accused of causing the premature deaths of as many as 15,000.

Lucido says only five states, including Michigan and New York, used the care facilities as hubs.

“If we find there’s been willful neglect of office, if we find there’s been reckless endangerment of a person’s life by bringing them in, then we would move forward with charges against the governor,” he said. “Of course, we would. Nobody’s above the law in this state.”

Lucido started looking into the matter last year as a state senator. He issued a statement in August that said more than 2,000 residents and 21 staff died in nursing homes – 32% of all deaths.

He will be meeting with Macomb County Police to instruct them on how to process and verify the information and bring it to his office.

“Why did my mom or why did my dad, brother, sister, or aunt die? Was it because of the policy by bringing in COVID-infected patients that spread to my mom that killed my mother?” Lucido said.

After becoming prosecutor this year, Lucido asked fellow county prosecutors to form a blue-ribbon committee for consistency in investigating the cases.

The prosecutors declined and said Lucido should make the request to the Michigan attorney general and federal prosecutor in the Justice Department. Lucido provided letters showing he did that last May.
The attorney general said there was not a proper basis to open a criminal investigation. But the U.S. attorney’s office said it would look into his request.

“I didn’t receive a very warm welcome,” said Lucido. “This is not political, everyone. This is about people who passed away at the behest of a policy that was created by the governor.”

In response, Whitmer said: “Our top priority from the start has been protecting Michiganders, especially seniors and our most vulnerable. The administration’s policies carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives. Early in the pandemic, the state acted swiftly to create a network of regional hubs with isolation units and adequate PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a facility. In addition, we have offered 100 percent of nursing home residents priority access to the vaccine. Both the former head of AARP, as well as an independent U-M study, praised our work to save lives in nursing homes.

“Mr. Lucido’s comments are shameful political attacks based in neither fact nor reality. Even his former colleague, Republican Sen. Ed McBroom, has said they ‘have not seen any evidence or testimony that says that a nursing home was forced to take someone against their will.’ And there’s a reason why Mr. Lucido’s colleagues have publicly rebuked this politically motivated waste of taxpayer dollars. Michiganders are tired of these petty partisan games, and we won’t be distracted by them either.”

Sounds like she’s on the run.

Whitmer told CNN on Sunday that her state “released an incredible amount of data. We have followed the federal requirements. Every step of the way.”

But last week, Charlie LeDuff, an investigative journalist in the state, said he is suing Whitmer after trying to get answers on COVID-related deaths tied to nursing homes.

“You can’t get them. I’ve been asking for months,” he said.

Republican state legislators have called for investigations into the governor’s handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the early days of the pandemic.

Michigan State Sen. Jim Runestad spearheaded the push.

“Gov. Whitmer’s regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities,” Runestad said in a February statement.

Republicans also want a probe into the state’s separation agreement for Robert Gordon, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services Director, according to the Detroit News.

Gordon also signed a confidentiality agreement “in the interest of protecting deliberations among government officials,” according to the deal obtained via an open-records request by the News.

Gordon resigned in January and is set to receive a $155,506 payout.

Back in December, Gordon said he did not disagree with critics questioning the common sense of allowing positive patients to return to homes where they are isolated until they fully recover, but the “profoundly imperfect” strategy is “functioning reasonably well.”

He also said allegations that Michigan forced nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals in the spring are “false.” The department in April quickly heard concerns about a provision in a Whitmer order and did not implement it, he said.

“Gov. Whitmer’s regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities,” Runestad said in a statement.

Where else might the death trail lead?

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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