The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is requesting information from the governors of four states to determine whether to conduct an in-depth investigation regarding whether their COVID-19 orders for nursing homes resulted in the additional deaths of elderly nursing home residents. The information will help DOJ decide to initiate investigations under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) regarding New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan’s response to Coronavirus in public nursing homes.
On March 25, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered: “No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. Nursing homes are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.” Similar orders to make nursing homes admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing, were given by governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
“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,” said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, New York has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States, with 32,592 victims, many of them elderly. New York’s death rate by population is the second-highest in the country with 1,680 deaths per million people. New Jersey’s death rate by population is 1,733 deaths per million people – the highest in the nation. In contrast, Texas’s death rate by population is 380 deaths per million people; and Texas has just over 11,000 deaths, though its population is 50 percent larger than New York and has many more recorded cases of COVID-19 – 577,537 cases in Texas versus 430,885 cases in New York. Florida’s COVID-19 death rate is 480 deaths per million; with total deaths of 10,325 and a population slightly larger than New York.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is evaluating whether to initiate investigations under the federal “Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act” (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others. The Civil Rights Division seeks to determine if the state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.
In New York State, for example, the public doesn’t even know how many people contracted the virus in nursing homes and died. Unlike other states, New York will not count a CoronaVirus death as a nursing home death if the patent has left the premises before thy pass. In other words, if a patient catches China Virus while living in a New York State nursing home and sent to a hospital where they die, it does not count as a nursing home death. If New York States tracked COVID-19 nursing home deaths like other states, its CoronaVirus nursing home death toll would be significantly higher than the 6,600+ reported. The death toll may be as high as 11,000.
Sadly, as his administration covers up the real death toll, Cuomo refuses an independent investigation that may reveal the actual total. But a more crucial reason for an independent would be to gain a full understanding of what happened in N.Y. State and what safeguards were needed to prevent the nursing home carnage from ever happening again.
If the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice decides to run an in-depth investigation of New York nursing home deaths as well as those in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. We may finally find out the real totals, and most importantly, how to prevent this kind of blood bath from ever happening again.
The letter below was the version of the DOJ letter that was sent to Andrew Cuomo.
Cross-posted with The Lid
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