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Gov. Whitmer Defends Nursing Home COVID Policies Following IG Report

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her administration have come under scrutiny for their handling of nursing homes early in the pandemic.

They were recently brought back to light when a report from the state inspector general showed 42% more deaths in long term care facilities than the state previously reported.

Thursday, a Joint Oversight Committee hearing was held on the findings in the report.

“I think if you read the report, it shows that the data that we have shared is absolutely accurate,” said Whitmer at a stop in Portage Friday afternoon.

Early in the pandemic, the state created regional hubs for nursing homes and allowed for COVID positive residents to be housed together. The governor stood by the strategy, even while Republicans in the legislature disagreed.

“Remember, we were told over and over all these executive orders were being drafted and being implemented because we are using the data, the data out there is driving this,” said Rep. Steve Johnson of Wayland during the hearing, “We want to know what is the data? The data shows this was a deadly decision.”

Opponents to the governor say the administration undercounted the deaths to save face with their policy.

“We looked at the CDC and certainly the Trump Administration,” said Whitmer, “The CDC gave us rules to follow. We followed them that’s exactly what the report says and because of the work we did we saved a lot of lives.”

The report shows a discrepancy in the reported deaths but does not go as far as to blame the administration. The administration reported what they were told by the feds and that did not include every kind of facility and it was up to the facility to report accurately.

“The information that the state collected was accurate,” said Whitmer, “But it’s provided by residential facilities.”

When asked, Whitmer would not definitively say the policy would be the same in a similar situation today but doubled down on the choices made in the spring of 2020.

“The facts are the facts,” said Whitmer, “I stand by the policies that we had to institute at the time with the information that we had.”

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