The United States Department of Justice is demanding some information from Michigan’s Whitmer administration. The government is now coming out in the open about an official federal review of how the state’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been directing the response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The department wants official state data on nursing and long-term care facility patients and how they have fared through it all. It’s no secret that about one-third of all the fatalities blamed on the virus in Michigan are residents or patients at those facilities.  And that’s not counting staff who contracted the virus. Many state political leaders in the Republican Party blame the Governor’s orders to force the facilities to accept patients or residents who were verified to already have contracted the virus. The nursing homes and care facilities were supposed to meet rigid safety guidelines. But many complained they couldn’t meet the rules.

What makes the DOJ probe all the more telling is that it is the Department’s
Civil Rights Division conducting the probe. The DOJ notice to the state spells out a list of specific data it needs to conduct its review.  It is not an official named investigation at this point. But to some, that’s a mere formality, and the fact that the department has hit this stage could mean something notable is stirring. Similar COVID-19 care data is being demanded from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. An Assistant Attorney General for the civil rights division says, “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.” Members of Congress began asking for this kind of action as long as two months ago as they held hearings to look at how Michigan was being directed by Governor Whitmer to handle virus outbreak issues.

Governor Whitmer and New York Governor Cuomo are releasing a joint response to the government’s review, calling it a transparent partisan move.  They complain only four states run by Democratic Governors are targeted by the Department of Justice probe. Critics point out - exactly. Only states run by Democratic Governors employed the tactic in question that has resulted in thousands of deaths.

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