By Calvin Freiburger
Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could pay a price for her own state’s treatment of nursing home patients in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a county prosecutor who says charges over the resulting deaths may be possible.
“If we find there’s been willful neglect of office if we find there’s been reckless endangerment of a person’s life by bringing them in then we would move forward with charges against the Governor,” New Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido told WXYZ Monday.
Lucido, a former state Senator who has been investigating the situation since last year, said in August that more than 2,000 residents and 21 staff died in nursing homes, which amounted to 32 percent of all COVID-19 deaths at the time.
Lucido has previously urged the state association of county prosecutors to form a Blue Ribbon commission to investigate, but it said he should instead put that request to state and federal law enforcement – which Lucido has also done, to no avail.
“I didn’t receive a very warm welcome,” he lamented. “This is not political, everyone. This is about people who passed away at the behest of a policy that was created by the Governor.”
Currently, Lucido’s efforts have been stymied by privacy laws that prevent him from obtaining information about the circumstances of patients’ deaths, so he is asking victims’ relatives to obtain the information themselves and file wrongful death reports, which can then be acted upon.
“The administration’s policies carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives,” Whitmer claims in a statement. “Mr. Lucido’s comments are shameful political attacks based in neither fact nor reality. Even his former colleague, Republican Sen. Ed McBroom, has said they ‘have not seen any evidence or testimony that says that a nursing home was forced to take someone against their will.’ And there’s a reason why Mr. Lucido’s colleagues have publicly rebuked this politically-motivated waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Whitmer’s defense echoes one of the early talking points New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed last year to defend his own handling of nursing homes, which has since collapsed as Cuomo aides and fellow New York Democrats have come forward to blame Cuomo for the deaths.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Whitmer made a name for herself as one of America’s most infamous governors for the scope of the restrictions she imposed, such as ordering grocery stores to stop selling plants and seeds (even as lottery tickets remain available), prohibiting travel between two private residences owned by the same individual, prohibiting indoor eating in restaurants and bars, limiting indoor Thanksgiving celebrations to 10 people from up to two households, mandatory mask-wearing, and bans on in-person education.