DOJ’s Civil Rights Division launches inquiry into nursing home deaths

by WorldTribune Staff, August 27, 2020

The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that its civil rights division has requested data from the governors of states who issued coronavirus orders which “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.”

From left, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

The DOJ requested the data from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. All have Democrat governors.

The DOJ said all of those states “required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.”

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 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.

“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.”

On March 25, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered: “No resident shall be denied re-admission 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.”

Zero Hedge noted: “Cuomo hasn’t said anything about Wednesday’s DoJ announcement — he’s been too busy grandstanding about the new CDC guidelines, which he — and a group of other Democratic governors — claimed was part of a plot by Trump to cover up the coronavirus pandemic…or something like that.”

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 (and the world).

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.

On March 3, Attorney General William Barr announced the DOJ’s National Nursing Home Initiative, which the DOJ says is a “comprehensive effort by the department, led by the Elder Justice Initiative and in strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that uses every available tool to pursue nursing homes that provide substandard care to their residents.”

As announced on April 10, the department is also investigating the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where COVID-19 has taken the lives of at least 76 residents.

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