DOJ Requests Data From State Governors Who Issued Deadly COVID-19 Nursing Home Orders

The U.S. Department of Justice is requesting what many families in many states who lost loved ones in nursing homes to the novel coronavirus have been waiting for: accountability for State governors that mandated nursing homes take recovering COVID-19 patients. The policies resulted in thousands of deaths when warnings about the elderly being the most vulnerable to the virus were clear from the start.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department sent letters to Govs. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, Phil Murphy, D-NJ, Tom Wolf, D-PA, Gretchen Whitmer, D-MI requesting those answers.

“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband, in a press release Wednesday. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”

Governors in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan all made those orders. And, in New York, for example, the highest number of COVID-19 deaths were counted, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The State’s COVID-19 death rate is also the nation’s second-highest.

The letters request that the State officials provide the following in the next 14 days:

  1. The number of Public Nursing Home residents, employees, other staff, guests, and visitors
    who contracted COVID-19, regardless of where such persons contracted COVID-19
  1. The number of Public Nursing Home residents, employees, other staff, guests, and visitors
    who died of COVID-19 including those who died in a Public Nursing Home or after being
    transferred to a hospital or other medical facility, hospice, home care, or any other location.
  2. All State-issued guidance, directives, advisories, or executive orders regarding admission of persons to Public Nursing Homes, including those previously superseded, as well as the dates each such document was in effect.
  3. The number of persons who were admitted to a Public Nursing Home from a hospital or
    any other facility, hospice, home care, or other location after testing positive for COVID19 during the period the guidance or orders were in effect.

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is also considering opening an investigation into the nursing home deaths.

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