August 31, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested data from the Democrat governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in avoidable COVID-19-related deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.
The data, which must be provided to the DOJ no later than September 9, will be used to determine whether the DOJ will open investigations under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes.
Four states – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan – “required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing,” according to a statement from the DOJ.
“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”
The DOJ directed particular attention to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s March 25, 2020 executive order which prohibited nursing homes from denying admission to coronavirus-positive patients.
“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” said Cuomo’s directive. “[Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
With over 32,500 victims, New York state has had by far the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). New Jersey has had 15,000.
While New York’s official count of COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes stands at about 6,600, the number could be much higher, according to a recent Associated Press (AP) report.
“Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there,” the AP discovered.
Gov. Cuomo has reportedly refused to divulge the true number of COVID-19-related nursing home deaths.
“Nearly every time Cuomo is questioned about New York’s nursing home death toll, he brushes off criticism as politically motivated and notes that his state’s percentage of nursing home deaths out of its overall COVID-19 death toll is around 20%, far less than Pennsylvania’s 68%, Massachusetts’ 64% and New Jersey’s 44%,” according to the AP’s Jim Mustian and Marina Villeneuve.
In response to the DOJ’s request for data, Governor Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a joint statement accusing the Trump Administration of playing election year politics.
“This is nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention. It’s no coincidence the moment the Trump administration is caught weakening the CDC’s COVID-19 testing guidelines to artificially lower the number of positive cases, they launched this nakedly partisan deflection,” Cuomo and Whitmer said.
“At least 14 states — including Kentucky, Utah and Arizona — have issued similar nursing guidance all based on federal guidelines and yet the four states listed in the DOJ’s request have a Democratic governor. DOJ should send a letter to [the Center for Medicare Services] and CDC since the State’s advisories were modeled after their guidance,” added Cuomo and Whitmer.
Cuomo’s mistake ‘killed thousands of grandmothers and grandfathers’
“For months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been ducking his personal responsibility for ordering the seeding of New York nursing homes with the coronavirus, a tragic mistake which killed thousands of grandmothers and grandfathers,” said Michael R. Caputo, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the New York Post.
“He’s shifted blame, he even tried to clear himself with a crony inquiry nobody in the nation took seriously. Thankfully, a federal investigation has begun, far from the dark and cynical manipulations of the second floor of the New York State Capitol,” added Caputo.