Michigan’s leading watchdog will examine data on the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes, following GOP suspicions of underreporting.
Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler agreed last week to investigate the accuracy of the number of reported deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
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In a letter to Ringler last month, Republican State Representative Steve Johnson said he had reason to suspect Michigan’s deaths among senior populations were “underreported.”
In our recent House Oversight Committee hearing, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Hertel admitted that because not all types of facilities are required to report deaths, all didn’t, “Johnson said. “The number of deaths in long-term care facilities is probably higher than what is reported. “
Johnson’s investigation came just days after Elizabeth Hertel testified, in which she told lawmakers she believed the COVID-19 data reported by nursing homes was accurate, according to the local newspaper The Detroit News.
Hertel said she does not believe long-term care facilities have an incentive to cover up coronavirus-related deaths.
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Johnson’s investigation follows a year-long reprimand from Republicans in the state of Governor Gretchen Whitmer for his coronavirus policies.
The governor of Michigan has allowed elderly patients with COVID-19 to leave their hospital beds once they no longer need intensive care and return to their nursing homes to remain in quarantine.
The move was an attempt to make room in overwhelmed hospitals at the height of the pandemic – but some called it irresponsible.
Ringler, who was appointed in 2014 for an eight-year term, estimated his in-depth review of state data should be completed by mid-October, if not sooner.
“We will be working with databases from various departments to address your concerns, which will impact the timing of our work,” Ringler wrote in a letter to Johnson, according to the local outlet.
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Michigan has reported that 5,680 long-term care residents and 77 staff have died from coronavirus-related illnesses. That figure represents 29% of the nearly 19,800 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the state.
Fox News could not immediately reach Johnson for comment.
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