Michigan Nursing Homes Undercounted COVID-19 Deaths By 42%, Auditor General Report Reveals

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Nursing homes in Michigan undercounted the number of their residents who died of COVID-19 between the beginning of the pandemic and July 2021 by more than 40%, according to a report issued by the state’s Auditor General.

Michigan nursing homes self-reported to the state Department of Health and Human Services 5,675 resident deaths due to COVID-19 during the first year-and-a-half of the pandemic, according to the report, which was reviewed by the Daily Caller ahead of its Monday release. However, the Office of the Auditor General identified an additional 2,386 nursing home and long-term care facility residents who died of the virus between those dates. The report was compiled at the request of state Rep. Steven Johnson, who described the Auditor General’s findings as “very troubling.”

“Instead of taking accountability for their actions, [the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services] is making a lot of excuses, they’re trying to shift blame away from themselves, they’re really just trying anything they can except take accountability for their own actions, and that’s really sad to see here. It’s a shameful act that occurred, and they’re doubling down on it instead of just owning up to their mistakes,” Johnson said in a statement.

Screenshot via YouTube/Click on Detroit

The Auditor General report defines a COVID-19 death at a long-term care facility as a “resident with [a] suspected or COVID-19 positive laboratory test results who died in the facility or another location.” The death toll was compiled by analyzing data from five different reporting and surveillance systems, Auditor General Doug Ringler wrote, although his office “did not audit the data.”

Of the 8,061 deaths noted by the Auditor General report, 7,010 of the deaths occurred at care facilities legally required by the state to report the death. Smaller adult foster care facilities, as well as some nursing homes that only provide hospice care, are not required by the state of Michigan to report COVID-19 deaths.

SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 16: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer introduces Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks about health care at Beech Woods Recreation Center October 16, 2020 in Southfield, Michigan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was one of several governors who ordered nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept patients regardless of whether or not they were infected with COVID-19. Republican state senators requested that state Attorney General Dana Nessel open an investigation into Whitmer’s order, although she declined to do so. (RELATED: Biden DOJ Won’t Investigate Cuomo, Whitmer Over Nursing Home Deaths)

A spokesperson for Whitmer did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment on the matter.