Justice Department won't probe Michigan nursing home deaths

LANSING (AP) — The Justice Department says it will not open a civil rights investigation related to COVID-19 deaths in Michigan's nursing homes.

The notification to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer came nearly 11 months after the department's Civil Rights Division requested data from the Democratic governors of four states, including Michigan, and said it was considering whether to investigate under a federal law that protects the rights of people in public nursing homes. Most nursing homes are privately owned.

Confronted with surging hospitalizations in April 2020, Michigan addressed the discharge of patients no longer needing acute care but still in quarantine.

Whitmer ordered that nursing homes not prohibit the admission or readmission of a resident based on COVID-19 testing results. Her administration told the Justice Department and state lawmakers, however, that the policy never went into effect because the state health department did not issue necessary
guidance due to nursing homes’ concerns. She has called allegations that homes were forced to take people “false.”

Republican lawmakers have criticized the governor for allowing hospitalized COVID-19 patients to return to designated units in nursing homes as some hospitals faced surging cases. There is no direct evidence the policy led to infections. Whitmer has said it complied with federal guidance.


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