Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is fighting a congressional inquiry into her nursing home policies, which Republican lawmakers say may have caused "thousands of elderly deaths" in the state amid the Wuhan virus outbreak.
Whitmer is refusing to hand over documents relating to her COVID-19 response, instead telling GOP members of the U.S. House coronavirus committee they should "refrain from encroaching on the sovereign power of a state government to deal with state matters."
The committee's top Republican, Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, blasted Whitmer's refusal to cooperate: "Her stonewalling will not deter us from getting the answers these families deserve." The inquiry seeks to uncover why Whitmer decided to "mandate nursing homes and long-term care facilities admit untested and contagious COVID-19 patients."
The governor claims the policy was designed to take pressure off overwhelmed hospitals. According to Gov. Whitmer, "Patients who are residents need a place to go upon being discharged, and so that was one way of doing it." However, Whitmer's administration declined a suggestion from the president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan to use empty facilities as quarantine centers.
Roughly one-third of all Wuhan-virus deaths in the state of Michigan have occurred in eldercare facilities — nearly 1,800 fatalities. Committee members are pressing on with their search for answers, but without Whitmer's cooperation, many questions may go unanswered.
Whitmer: "So here's the bottom line, Michigan: The sacrifice that we've made is paying off."