Critics slam Whitmer’s plan to group COVID-positive seniors in nursing homes

Critics slam Whitmer’s plan to group COVID-positive seniors in nursing homes

Detroit Democrat Leslie Love said the move is “not a good idea.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order requiring Michigan seniors who have tested positive for COVID-19 be grouped together in regional nursing homes.

Seniors in nursing homes are among those at the highest risk for the virus. The executive order would put seniors testing positive into one of 19 special “regional hubs,” where COVID-positive and negative patients will be required to be housed in separate wings or buildings.

State Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) does not support the plan.

“To return seniors into an environment, seniors with the virus still recovering from the virus, into an environment with, well, seniors, just didn’t seem – it’s not a good idea,” Love said.

Of the 5,372 COVID-related deaths in Michigan, at least 1,216 of those occurred in nursing homes. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon told the state Senate Oversight Committee on Wednesday that 13% of facilities have not reported to the state, including in the hard-hit Detroit metro area.

There could be an additional 400 deaths not reflected in the official state information, meaning Michigan nursing home deaths may be as high as one-third of the state’s total death toll.

With little oversight and staffing issues, Love is concerned the strict separation and safety guidelines would not be met and the virus could spread among a vulnerable population.

“That would break my heart because I’ve been on the front lines of this, trying to make sure our seniors – my mother, your mother, anybody else’s mother – does not get sick and die from this, particularly if they’re in a nursing home,” Love said.

Earlier this month, a 75-year-old man was brutally beaten in a nursing home by a 20-year-old fellow patient who was placed there because he tested positive for COVID-19, the suspect’s father said.

“He has issues, and for them to put him in a facility like that, nothing good was going to happen,” the father said.

Love is not the only one with concerns. State Sen. Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Township) has sent a letter to the Michigan Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s office demanding a criminal investigation into Whitmer’s policy.

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