State health director accuses Republican Rep. of using nursing home deaths to mislead the public

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 20:11:45-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — "Misleading" is how Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel describes a new report issued by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) on the COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The OAG compiled the number of deaths in the report at the request of Representative Steven Johnson, (R) Wayland, who is Chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Johnson said he made the request in June because he believed the number of deaths was higher than what MDHHS was reporting. He said the department was not including COVID-19 deaths associated with all long-term facilities.

In his report that was released Monday, Auditor General Doug Ringler reported 8,061 COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities from January 2020 to July 2021.

In the same time frame, MDHHS reported the deaths to be 5,675, which is 30-percent fewer deaths.

Hertel said the auditor general used unreliable sources for some of his data, but that a large part of the discrepancy is in how Representative Johnson requested the information.

Johnson asked that COVID-19 deaths at all long-term facilities in Michigan be counted while MDHHS only includes deaths at facilities that are licensed or regulated by the State of Michigan.

Rep. Johnson blames Gov. Whitmer's handling of the pandemic, saying her administration is intentionally trying to deny the actual number of deaths and deflect on the reasons why.

"These are long-term care facilities that were required under Governor Whitmer's policies to accept COVID positive patients, and because of that, our most vulnerable residents were put at risk. That's something that never should have happened and there needs to be accountability on this," Johnson told 7 Action News.

The OAG report does not analyze how many or if any deaths resulted from long-term care facilities being used as COVID hubs, now called Care and Recovery Centers.

Below is the full OAG report, as well as, a letter Hertel wrote to the OAG in response to his report.


HERTEL TO OAG (1) by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd