A county prosecutor in Michigan says charges against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could be in the making related to the deaths of nursing home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido said that as of now, he has suspicions, but he needs evidence, according to WXYZ-TV in Detroit.
Lucido is urging Michigan residents who lost family members who were in nursing homes at the time of their death to make a wrongful death complaint with a local police agency because privacy laws otherwise block him from acting on specific cases.
“If we find there’s been willful neglect of office, if we find there’s been reckless endangerment of a person’s life by bringing them in, then we would move forward with charges against the governor. Of course, we would. Nobody’s above the law in this state,” he told WXYZ.
Lucido said he will meet with police in Macomb County to instruct them on how to process and verify the information and bring it to the prosecutor’s office.
As a Republican state senator last year, Lucido sponsored a bill that would have banned putting COVID-19 patients into nursing homes. Whitmer vetoed the bill.
“I am very disappointed and saddened that the governor vetoed this extremely important and commonsense legislation. Politics should not prevail over the health and safety of our seniors and health care workers,” Lucido said in a statement at the time.
The statement said 35 percent of all Michigan deaths from COVID-19 at that point had come from nursing home residents.
Lucido said questions need to be answered.
“Why did my mom or why did my dad, brother, sister, or aunt die? Was it because of the policy by bringing in COVID-infected patients that spread to my mom that killed my mother?” he told WXYZ.
“We could have circumvented the death of nursing home patients and for their loved ones,” Lucido told the outlet.
According to Fox News, Republican state Sen. Jim Runestad said that Whitmer’s “regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities.”
Lucido, who has also called for investigations at the state and federal levels, said that regardless of politics, the truth must come out.
“This is not political, everyone. This is about people who passed away at the behest of a policy that was created by the governor,” he told WXYZ.
But Whitmer’s office claimed Lucido’s comments were nothing but politics.
“Our top priority from the start has been protecting Michiganders, especially seniors and our most vulnerable,” the governor’s office said in a statement to WXYZ. “The administration’s policies carefully tracked [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives.
“Early in the pandemic, the state acted swiftly to create a network of regional hubs with isolation units and adequate PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a facility. In addition, we have offered 100 percent of nursing home resident priority access to the vaccine.”
“Mr. Lucido’s comments are shameful political attacks based in neither fact nor reality,” the statement said.
“Michiganders are tired of these petty partisan games, and we won’t be distracted by them either.”
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