It’s convenient for Democrats that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s scandal has shifted from him sentencing more than 15,000 seniors to death by allowing COVID-19 patients access to nursing homes to “Me-too” allegations.
Convenient because Democratic governors in Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania followed the same disastrous coronavirus practices in their nursing homes and would more likely be held accountable by their constituents if it received more air-time by the national media.
Broadcast news networks ABC, CBS and NBC have spent nearly three times as much coverage on allegations from several women that Mr. Cuomo sexually harassed them in recent years than they did on his nursing home scandal, according to a new report from the Media Research Center. The less the press focuses on the nursing homes, the more cover they provide to the likes of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
Ms. Whitmer could be facing criminal charges over her handling of the coronavirus deaths in the state’s nursing homes, as Michigan’s attorney general launched an investigation into the fatalities. She is said to have given former Health Department Director Robert Gordon a $155,000 separation agreement, and the state’s Republicans vowed they will hold hearings on the matter.
Like Mr. Cuomo, Ms. Whitmer forced early coronavirus patients into nursing homes, and state officials have been blocked from getting information about the actual number of deaths because of laws that shield patients’ health care information.
“If we find there’s been willful neglect of office, if we find there’s been reckless endangerment of a person’s life by bringing them in, then we would move forward with charges against the governor. Of course, we would. Nobody’s above the law in this state,” Macomb County prosecutor Peter Lucido told ABC 7 WXYZ on Monday.
In New Jersey, COVID-19 nursing home deaths nearly tripled in December. New Jersey has the most coronavirus-related nursing home deaths per capita in the country — about 45% of its more than 17,000 confirmed cases.
Gannett NJ obtained documents showing that the state Office of Attorney General has convened a grand jury that is investigating the state-run veterans’ homes — where 200 people have died from COVID-19 — for possible criminal charges.
Earlier this year, Mr. Murphy blamed the former Trump administration for the fatalities, saying the state continues “to suffer from the lack of a national strategy to address COVID, and that includes testing.”
Now that President Biden is in office, Mr. Murphy still refuses to take the blame for his earlier mistakes, saying over the weekend that long-term care facilities in his state should “pay the price” if they didn’t follow the guidelines for preventing the disease’s spread.
Nursing home death rates also spiked in Illinois in December, and according to an August report by Illinois Policy Institute, “As COVID-19 was ravaging nursing home populations, which saw over half of the state’s pandemic deaths [early in the pandemic], the Illinois Department of Public Health chose for 3 1/2 months not to investigate 272 complaints of abuse and neglect.”
Paging Gov. J.B. Pritzker — you, too, may be liable for these unnecessary deaths by sending COVID-19 positive patients to nursing homes and then by not responding to the crisis fast enough.
Lastly, in Pennsylvania, more than 12,000 of the nearly 24,000 coronavirus deaths in the state occurred in nursing and long-term care facilities — and that count is most likely conservative.
Republicans lawmakers in the state are suspicious the officially reported numbers are too low and are renewing calls for an investigation into how Gov. Tom Wolf dealt with nursing homes, sending early positive patients there to seek treatment.
“Can we trust our numbers? That’s what I’d like to know,” Pennsylvania Rep. Clint Owlett told ABC News 27.
So, it’s not just Mr. Cuomo in hot water.
The Democratic governors in Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania also need to explain to their constituents exactly why they elected the nursing home policies they did and bear liability for the horrific outcomes of those decisions.