COVID nursing home deaths deserve a federal investigation

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For almost two years now I, along with other families, have been fighting for the truth when it comes to what happened in New York nursing homes. Many of you know that we lost my husband’s parents Michael and Dolores Newman in the spring of 2020 after they contracted COVID in their care facilities. 


I found out shortly after they died that our former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration had ordered over 9,000 COVID positive patients into senior residences across the state for 46 days. We still have no idea why the governor and his administration chose to bring a highly contagious virus into a place where our most vulnerable resided despite all the early warning signs this would prove lethal.

I’ve also wondered why Cuomo and company never utilized the makeshift hospitals that were  provided to us in New York City like the USS Comfort hospital ship and the Javits Center.  Instead of sending sick patients to these two places, the health department decided to cram the nursing home halls with sick people.

And the biggest question that has still gone unanswered is why. Why did Cuomo go to such great lengths to cover up the death toll by the thousands?

Meanwhile, as we were trying to find answers, there were reports that other Democratic governors across the country were doing exactly the same thing: Governors Tom Murphy of New Jersey, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Gavin Newsom of California and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan were all writing executive orders sending their infected citizens to recover into long term care facilities.

My friend Charlie LeDuff, who hosts “The No BS Newshour” podcast and is a columnist for Deadline Detroit, has been doing his own investigative reporting in Michigan over the last year and a half. Charlie is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has also worked for the New York Times, the Detroit News and Fox 2 in the past. He has also invited me on his program to talk about my story several times. 

Charlie has been using all his resources to find out if Whitmer was hiding the dead like Cuomo did. Last week he texted me to say he was right: the death toll of infected Michigan residents who died in nursing homes was much higher. And just like Whitmer’s buddy Cuomo, her elderly undercount was in the thousands: According to the Michigan Auditor General, there were 8,061 elderly deaths now being reported instead of the Health Department’s total of 5,675.

I asked Charlie why he decided to pursue this fight for justice. He says because it’s the right thing to do. 

“People are suffering and dying. It’s my responsibility as a man to help. If the entire government is lined up to perpetuate their pain, I will fight the entire government.”

FILE – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses business leaders, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Detroit. Michigan public schools can use non-teaching staff as substitute teachers the rest of the academic year under a law designed to address a shortage during the coronavirus pandemic. 
((AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Charlie says it’s obvious to him why these governors are covering up the numbers:

“2020 was an electric political year and the Democrats were screaming, ‘anybody but Trump.’  COVID became a political issue, so that means no mistakes could be admitted, no [Democratic] politician could do wrong, and if they did, they lied and covered up those mistakes.  

We know that now in Michigan, we know that in New York and thousands of our fellow human beings are dead because of it.” 

Officials and lawmakers in Michigan are now scrambling to make up excuses for their shoddy bookkeeping, blaming false time frames, bad reporting systems, poor data transfer, different reporting protocols, and technical difficulties. They also are blaming the seniors’ death certificates as being inaccurate. 

FILE – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at New York’s Yankee Stadium, on July 26, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

It’s reminiscent of what happened in New York when then-Gov. Cuomo blamed everyone else for his terrible decisions including God, Mother Nature and the old people themselves.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to presume there is still a lot to uncover when it comes to what happened to our loved ones and why they were not protected from harm by our elected leaders. 

Why were families never informed of the death warrants signed on their behalf in the spring? They say the cover up is worse than the crime, but in this case we’ll never get our family members back. 

However, it’s not too late to demand answers from our government and the people who called the shots in a time when we needed them to act safely and responsibly.

It’s time for all of us to ask for a full, bipartisan federal investigation into all these states that acted so recklessly.  If I’m a betting woman, what happened in New York and Michigan more than likely happened in Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey. We need to find out and raise our voices to demand the truth.

Elections have consequences and there’s never been a better time to ask for accountability. 

Our loved ones deserve that for unknowingly risking their lives. It’s the least we can do in their memory to make sure this never happens again to another person or the family that loved them.

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