By Julia Duggan
The Department of Justice formally requested data from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan on Wednesday, Aug. 26, concerning thousands of deaths in nursing home residents that may have stemmed from orders for nursing homes to accept recovering Covid-19 patients while lacking adequate testing protocols.
According to a Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division release, the 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.”
NBC reported that “long-term care facilities represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for 42 percent of the Covid-19 deaths.”
The DOJ said in the release that New Jersey had the highest death rate for elderly residents, while New York was the second highest. The release specifically cites an order given by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 25, which was rescinded on May 10.
“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH (nursing home) solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of Covid-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for Covid-19 prior to admission or readmission,” the March 25 report stated.
“This is nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention,” said Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a joint statement originally reported by The Washington Post.
“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.”
The two governors asserted that at least 14 states, including Kentucky, Utah and Arizona, had issued similar nursing guidance, but only Democratic-led states were targeted. The guidance, the governors asserted, was “based on federal guidelines.”
In the Aug. 26 letter requesting the data sent to Gov. Phil Murphy, it said that no conclusions have been met about the matter. The letter states that the data was to be received in 14 days, stating whether or not a Civil Rights of Institutional Persons Act (CRIPA) investigation was to be opened.
Alyana Alfaro Post, the press secretary for Gov. Murphy, spoke on the matter.
“Throughout the pandemic, the state of New Jersey followed CDC guidance and took numerous actions to protect residents of our nursing homes,” Post said, according to The Washington Post. “We do not comment on investigative inquiries and will respond through the appropriate channels in due course.”