The U. S. Department of Justice has determined it will not open a civil rights investigation into any public nursing facility within Michigan.
Eleven months ago, the department – then under the direction of former President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr – sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer requesting a considerable amount of state data related to its handling of COVID-19 in nursing facilities . A similar letter went out to the governors of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
At the time, the governors receiving the letter – all Democrats – slammed the request as political.
In a letter to Ms. Whitmer’s chief legal counsel, Mark Totten, Steven Rosenbaum, chief of the Justice Department’s special litigation section, said after reviewing the information provided, “we have decided not to open a CRIPA investigation of any public nursing facility within Michigan at this time.”
CRIPA is the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
The Justice Department is now under the authority of an appointee of President Joe Biden. Mr. Rosenbaum has spent his career at the department, however.
Republicans have attacked Ms. Whitmer on COVID-19 in nursing homes, citing a short-lived executive order she issued early in the pandemic requiring COVID-19 positive patients not requiring hospitalization to be housed in sectioned off areas of nursing homes if it could be done so safely. Ms. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have said repeatedly the order was never implemented and quickly changed.
There is no data to suggest that Michigan saw more nursing home patients contract COVID-19 than other states without similar policies though that data is now the subject of a study by the Office of the Auditor General.