FLINT (WWJ/AP) – Governor Snyder has been asked by a congressional committee to address when exactly he learned about the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint.
Snyder told Congress he didn’t learn of Legionnaires’ until January 2016. But his aide told a judge he told Snyder about Legionnaires’ before Christmas 2015.
His words suddenly are being revisited after Harvey Hollins, Snyder’s director of urban initiatives, told a judge Friday that he told the governor about Legionnaires’ during a phone call before Christmas 2015.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent Snyder a letter Thursday.
“In terms of Legionnaires’, I didn’t learn of that until 2016. … That was clearly a case where the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services should have done more to escalate the issue, to get it visible to the public and to me,” Snyder told lawmakers.
Snyder spokesman Ari Adler declined to comment on the apparent conflict. But he said the governor’s testimony was accurate.
Nearly 100 Legionnaires’ cases, including 12 deaths, were reported in Genesee County in 2014-15 when Flint was using the Flint River for water. The outbreak wasn’t publicly announced until Snyder and his health chief held a news conference in January 2016. It was a remarkable sidebar to Flint’s ongoing disaster: a lead-contaminated water supply.
The Snyder administration’s handling of the Legionnaires’ outbreak has led to involuntary manslaughter charges against six people, including health department director Nick Lyon, who knew about the outbreak months before the governor. Prosecutors allege that a timely announcement could have saved lives.
Some experts have linked Legionnaires’ to Flint’s use of the Flint River. It’s a pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs.
The governor hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing in the Flint water investigation, which goes beyond Legionnaires’ and includes how the city became poisoned with lead while it was being run by state-appointed managers. More than a dozen people have been charged.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)