Twenty-three percent of COVID-19 nursing home deaths were in four states–New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Michigan–where Democratic governors forced nursing homes to admit residents who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the most recent data published on March 4 by the COVID Tracking Project.
As of March 4, a total of 510,383 Americans have died from the Chinese coronavirus. Thirty-four percent of those COVID-19 deaths, or 174,474, have been reported as long-term care (LTC) facility residents, according to COVID Tracking Project.
Twenty-three percent of those 174,474 COVID-19 LTC resident deaths, or 40,058, have occurred in the four states where Democrat governors (Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York, Gov. Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania, Gov. Phil Murphy in New Jersey, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan) implemented policies in March and April of 2020 forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients:
State COVID-19 LTC resident deaths
New York 14,450
New Jersey 7,969
Those four states have just 15.9 percent of the total population of the United States (51.1 million out of 321 million).
In August, the Department of Justice under President Donald Trump announced:
The Justice Department requested COVID-19 data from the governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is evaluating whether to initiate investigations under the federal “Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act” (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others. The Civil Rights Division seeks to determine if the state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.
It is unclear what, if any, follow-up actions President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice will take on this investigation.
Cuomo’s policy requiring nursing homes to admit COVID-19 positive patients has been the most controversial to date, in part because the Attorney General of New York in January released a report that said the New York State Department of Health (NY DOH) had dramatically under-reported Chinese coronavirus deaths from nursing home residents.
While the NYDOH subsequently increased the reported COVID-19 deaths from nursing home residents in New York, doubts linger about the data’s credibility.
Breitbart News reported last week:
A report released last month by the Empire Center for Public Policy undermines claims by the New York State Department of Health that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) controversial March 25 order requiring nursing homes in the state to admit coronavirus-positive residents had no impact on nursing home coronavirus death rates.
In that report, titled, “COVID-positive Admissions Were Correlated with Higher Death Rates in New York Nursing Homes,” the Albany, New York, based think tank concluded, “The admission of coronavirus-positive patients into New York nursing homes under March 25 guidance from the New York State Department of Health was associated with a statistically significant increase in resident deaths.”
Cuomo’s controversial March 25, 2020, guidance was in effect until May 10, 2020.
“Statewide, the findings imply that COVID-positive new admissions between late March and early May, which numbered 6,327, were associated with several hundred and possibly more than 1,000 additional resident deaths,” (emphasis added) the Empire Center study found .
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDOH) issued “Interim Guidance for Nursing Facilities During COVID-19,” on March 18, 2020, which said, “Nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable to alleviate the increasing burden in the acute care settings. This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus.”
PennLive reported more details on the PDOH policy in June:
Pennsylvania issued its first guidelines on March 18, telling nursing homes to admit stable patients from hospitals. The state provided more detailed guidelines on May 12. Those guidelines said hospitals treating people for a non-COVID-19 illness need to test them for COVID-19 before releasing them to a nursing home. But if they test positive, nursing homes should still admit them.
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, a York County Republican, wants the Wolf administration to change its policy. Scalise offered Florida’s protocols as an example of what Pennsylvania could do.
“They explicitly said a nursing home cannot take a COVID-19 patient back from a hospital if they can’t properly isolate,” Scalise said of the Florida policy, adding that some nursing homes set up isolation units. “But the ones that couldn’t — and there were a number that couldn’t — they worked with them to find other accommodations, whether it’s keeping those seniors in the hospital or finding somewhere else for them.”
Breitbart News reported Wolf is under investigation by the Pennsylvania House for his handling of long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 31, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Health told nursing homes they were required to admit COVID-19 positive patients:
New Jersey State Senator Joe Pennacchio has obtained copies of both New Jersey and New York memoranda to long-term nursing facilities in their states. Both correspondences admonish the facilities to take in infected COVID-19 patients. New Jersey went so far as to prohibit even the testing of patients for COVID-19 entering long-term nursing facilities.
“New Jersey’s letter to these facilities was dated March 31, 2020, while New York’s was almost one week prior on March 25, 2020. Seems to me that New Jersey was taking directions from New York on its handling of COVID-19 patients in nursing homes,” said Pennacchio.
The Senator produced letters from both states directed at hospitals and nursing homes as to what their discharge and acceptance policy should be toward these elderly vulnerable patients. The letters were highlighted by the Senator to show where the exact New York verbiage was used by the New Jersey State Department of Health in those directions.
On April 15, 2020, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients:
A long-term care facility must not prohibit admission or readmission of a resident based on COVID-19 testing requirements or results in a manner that is inconsistent with relevant guidance issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
A local county prosecutor is now considering bringing criminal charges against Gov. Whitmer for this policy, as WXYZ reported:
New Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido says people who lost loved ones to COVID as residents or staff inside nursing homes should go back to get the vital information about the circumstances of their death and take that to local police and make a complaint as a wrongful death. . .
Lucido started looking into this last year as a State Senator. He issued a statement in August that said more than 2,000 residents and 21 staff died in nursing homes, 32% of all deaths.
Lucido is asking people to go back to the nursing homes and gather the vital information surrounding deaths and take it to local police to file a wrongful death report. . .
“Why did my mom or why did my dad, brother, sister, or aunt die? Was it because of the policy by bringing in COVID-infected patients that spread to my mom that killed my mother?” Lucido said.
On a per-capita basis, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have a COVID-19 LTC resident death rate significantly higher than the national average of 54.3 per 100,000.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, which has an estimated 2019 population of 12.8 million, the COVID-19 LTC resident death rate per 100,000 population is 98.1.
In New Jersey, which has an estimated population of slightly less than 8.9 million as of 2019, the COVID-19 LTC resident death rate for 100,000 population is 89.7.
In New York, which has an estimated population of 19.4 million as of 2019, the COVID-19 LTC resident death rate for 100,000 population is 74.3.
In Michigan, which has an estimated population of slightly less than 10 million as of 2019, the COVID-19 LTC resident death rate for 100,000 population is 50.8, slightly below the national average of 54.3
In New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, COVID-19 LTC resident deaths as a percentage of total nursing facility residents are significantly above the national average of 14 percent — 174,474 COVID-19 LTC resident deaths out of the more than 1.2 million nursing home residents in the United States, according to data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The 14,450 COVID-19 LTC deaths in New York State, for instance, are 16.1 percent of the state’s 89,775 nursing facility residents. In Pennsylvania, the 12,565 COVID-19 LTC deaths are 17.3 percent of the state’s 72,519 nursing facility residents. In New Jersey, the 7,969 COVID-19 LTC deaths are 18.8 percent of the state’s 42,413 nursing facility residents.
In Michigan, the 5,o74 COVID-19 LTC deaths are 13.5 percent of the state’s 37,547 nursing facility residents, slightly below the national average of 14 percent.