LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The prosecutor for Michigan’s third-largest county said Thursday he will investigate nursing home-related coronavirus deaths, saying there are questions about whether the transfer of recovering patients into facilities led residents and staff to be infected.
Macomb County’s Peter Lucido, a Republican who has criticized Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s nursing home policies in the pandemic, urged families with concerns about a relative’s “transfer, incident or death” to submit a form to local law enforcement. He said two reports had already been filed, in Warren and Shelby Township, before his news conference.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: “Help Wanted!” Growing Woe for Business
He also asked the county medical examiner to establish a team to review the deaths of elderly and vulnerable adults, as allowed under law.
Asked if the probe could result in criminal charges, Lucido said: “We’ll have to see where it leads us. Charges won’t be determined until there’s a full, extensive, fair, open and honest investigation of the case. … There could be no charges.”READ MORE: Detroit Police Department Holds Graduation Ceremony For Recruit Class 2021-G
Republican lawmakers have called for investigations into why people with COVID-19 were placed in long-term care facilities, saying it led to infections — though there is no direct evidence.
Amid concerns about hospitals being overwhelmed with patients, Whitmer’s early orders required certain nursing homes to create a unit dedicated to the care of residents who tested positive for the virus, had symptoms or were potentially infected. They had to admit or readmit anyone they normally would have regardless of whether the individual had recently been discharged from a hospital treating COVID-19 patients. Nursing homes without a unit transferred people to regional “hub” nursing homes with higher levels of care.
Robert Gordon, the former director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, said last September that no home was forced to accept infected patients because the agency quickly heard concerns and did not implement the provision. Mark Totten, the governor’s chief legal counsel, wrote in response to a Justice Department inquiry that the policy complied with federal guidance and, regardless, never took effect.MORE NEWS: Here's A Look At Weekend Construction Happening In Metro Detroit
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