Governors now in hot water for forcing nursing homes, assisted living facilities to take in COVID-19 patients
06/21/2020 // Michael Alexander // Views

Five state governors are now in hot water after issuing mandates that force nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients – a blatant disregard for guidance set earlier by the federal government.

According to the Epoch Times, lawmakers from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis have already sent letters to the governors demanding information not just on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at nursing homes in their states, but also the number of hospital discharges to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The letters also demanded that the governors supply them with information regarding their executive pandemic orders and directives on nursing homes, as well as other relevant documents and communications between their offices and the state departments of health regarding COVID-19 mitigation in long-term care facilities.

The lawmakers also demanded that the governors supply copies of communication between their states’ health departments and state nursing home administrators.

In the letter, the lawmakers noted that the ongoing pandemic, which is caused by the Wuhan coronavirus, has affected the elderly population disproportionately – especially those who are currently living in nursing homes and other long-term care and assisted living facilities.

“We owe it to those who died and their grieving families to get to the bottom of why these deadly decisions were made by these governors, ensure we stop this from still taking place, and prevent tragedies like these from happening again as we continue to battle this deadly virus,” said Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican and a member of the Coronavirus Crisis subcommittee.


Among the governors currently being questioned over their decision to order nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients is New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, as reported by the Associated Press, issued an order on May 25 that ordered nursing homes and long-term care facilities to accept COVID-19 patients. Due to this, the AP said, over 4,500 COVID-19 patients were shipped off to New York’s already beleaguered facilities, where they reportedly caused 6,432 deaths before the mandate was scrapped. (Related: Nursing home infections and deaths are still rising, even after coronavirus lockdown.)

Just like fellow Democratic governor Cuomo, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is also being put to task for her office’s directives regarding the spread of coronavirus in her state.

Whitmer, according to the Detroit Free Press, issued a directive ordering nursing homes to create dedicated units for COVID-19-affected residents – provided, of course, that the facilities still have 80 percent of their capacity available.

For nursing homes who are at 80 percent capacity, COVID-19 residents must be sent to a “regional hub,” which the state will designate.

According to data furnished by the state Department of Health and Human Services -- purportedly the results of a new "extensive data validation effort" – one of every three deaths linked to COVID-19 in Michigan was a nursing home patient. This translates to at least 1,505 deaths out of 6,061 coronavirus-related mortalities in the state.

Other governors that are being asked to submit information regarding their coronavirus directives include Gavin Newsom of California, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania.

As reported by ProPublica, the states that issued directives similar to New York have since logged grim and devastating outcomes: Michigan lost 5 percent of its 38,000 nursing home residents to COVID-19, while New Jersey lost 12 percent of its more than 43,000 residents – the highest so far in terms of nursing home deaths in the country.

“Just about the worst possible thing to do is knowingly introduce coronavirus to the most vulnerable populations, yet that’s exactly what several states did by mandating nursing homes accept infected patients,” Jackie Walorski, the representative for Indiana’s second congressional district and a Select Subcommittee member, said, adding that the “misguided policies” enforced by the governors must be scrutinized closely.

“The leaders who put them in place have a lot of tough questions to answer,” Walorski, a Republican, said.

As of press time, over 2.1 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, of whom 118,435 have died.

Sources include:

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