Column

LeDuff: More Dead Found in Michigan Nursing Homes -- Politicos Move On

March 03, 2022, 10:16 PM by  Charlie LeDuff

The new Covid strategy for vulnerable Democrats appears to be to stuff the whole dark episode into a political duffel bag, toss it into the river and move on.

“The more we talk about the threat of Covid and onerously restrict people’s lives because of it, the more we turn them against us and show them we’re out of touch with their daily realities,” reads a memo from Impact Research, a consulting firm advising Democrats in this year's elections. “Take credit for ending the Covid crisis phase of the Covid war,” the guidance continues, “and fully enter the rebuilding phase that comes after any war.”


Lt. Garlin Gilchrist II

Good advice. Change the subject. Don't remind them of the lockdowns here in Michigan that shuttered businesses and sequestered our children. Move on to the next war, in Ukraine. Hand General Motors a billion dollars in incentives and hold a press conference. Send Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II out in a suit to stare into potholes.

Do anything. Just move on.

But I'm not ready to move on. Here in Michigan, there is still the matter of the nursing home dead.

Michigan's Big Lie

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her health executives continue with the Big Lie that her nursing home policies saved lives.

Her army of pillow fluffers have pumped out the debunked narrative that:

1) Her policies were so effective that deaths in long-term care facilities in Michigan are below the national average.

2) Even though Whitmer signed an executive order required nursing homes to accept infected patients still hot with Covid, the policy wasn't implemented.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

But Big Gretch is gaslighting the public. The sick were in fact commingled with the healthy. You might remember those nursing home hubs, those 21 hand-selected nursing homes of last resort in Michigan that accepted the Covid sick when there was no other place for them to go.

Those homes were supposed to be special places. Places that had separate nursing and janitorial staff, and separate and isolated wings following special protocols, to protect the healthy people living there.

Now the news: According to additional data from the auditor general's work product obtained by Deadline Detroit from state legislators, those hubs failed to report an additional 81 Covid deaths throughout the pandemic. Instead of 341 deaths in these hubs, as the state claims, the number is actually 422.

Put another way, one in five bodies were not counted as Covid deaths. 

Substandard care 

Should we be surprised? Many of these nursing home hubs were never good to begin with. Eleven of the 21 received below or far below-average ratings in their Medicaid grades before the pandemic and nine flunked infection inspections during it.

Whitmer assured us she made pandemic response decisions based on science and data. We now know the data was inaccurate, even in the so-called hubs that the Whitmer administration insisted were well-equipped and monitored.

Keep in mind the independent report from the state auditor general shows at least 2,400 more people died in the state's collective nursing facilities than Whitmer health officials acknowledged in their limited count -- a full 42 percent higher than the self-reported count by these facilities, placing Michigan well above the national average. 

This doesn't seem to bother the flapping fish of the corporate media, who continue to bite the establishment line, hook, line and sinker. Some want you to believe the auditor general is a crank partisan hack. The truth is, the auditor general never so much as voted in a partisan primary or donated a dime to a candidate.

Caught out amplifying the government's party line, the press – to its great shame – has doubled down when confronted with the evidence. 

Now we're supposed to forget all this ever happened.

Goofball Challengers

The latest poll shows only 50 percent of the voters approve of Whitmer. But my guess is she will probably win re-election if the gaggle of goofball Republican challengers is any indication. They don't seem interested in the nursing home victims beyond a political talking point.

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They're more intoxicated by the scent of Trump's loafers than the actual business of ideas and governance. They tie themselves in knots trying to figure ways to promote Trump's Big Lie – so as not to offend the Big Orange – so as not to offend sensible voters come November.

And every Michigan GOP bigwig I talk to knows it. The party is collapsing. The executive director, who was critical of Trump, showed himself the door last summer. The Michigan party chairman can't bother to be here, reportedly off canoodling in California. Two of the bigger campaigns are being run by out-of-state sleazeballs. A third candidate lies about his birthday on an Internet dating site trying to score women half his age. 

It's all good copy. It's all good for business. The weirder it gets, the more the media eats.

But what about the dead? They're gone, but they're not forgotten. Promise. 

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