In January, a report by the New York attorney general revealed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration deliberately undercounted nursing home deaths in the state by more than 50 percent. Since Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf has sought to emulate his partner up north on almost every COVID-19 policy and strategy, it isn’t farfetched to wonder if Pennsylvania’s long-term care deaths are deliberately undercounted as well.
Indeed, in September, Spotlight Pennsylvania reported that weekly reports released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health were consistently missing death and case data for more than 100 of the state’s 693 nursing homes.
Let us also not forget this past summer, when dozens of county coroners questioned and refuted the numbers of COVID-19 deaths reported by the Wolf administration. For instance, the most recent weekly report from Mar. 10 shows that 138 facilities are still showing “no data” for several COVID-19 deaths.
It took courage for the New York attorney general to investigate the policies of her own administration and reveal the undercounting of reported deaths. Sadly, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has turned his attention to investigating the facilities that were forced into a bad position to begin with.
In May, the attorney general stated, “We will hold nursing facilities and caretakers criminally accountable if they fail to properly provide care to our loved ones.” Yet Shapiro refuses to investigate the decision-making of the Wolf administration and the accuracy of the reported deaths.
In March 2020, Wolf faced a crucial decision in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance for long-term care facilities to all 50 atates. It’s worth noting, however, that “guidance” is the important word here and was not a “directive” to each governor.
The March 13 CDC guidance stated that nursing homes “should” admit any individuals that they would normally admit (with or without COVID-19). But it did not say that they “must” admit these individuals.
The governors of 45 of the 50 states followed scientific information and rejected the idea of sending sick COVID-19 patients into the most vulnerable population. Yet the governors of five states — Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and California — foolishly and recklessly had their respective health secretaries issue guidance to send the sick back into long-term care facilities, unleashing a plague among our elderly.
For Pennsylvania, this catastrophic decision was made before many of the other states. On March 18, in arguably the biggest science-denying scam in our state’s history, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine issued the now infamous directive to long-term care facilities to accept COVID-19 positive residents back from hospitals.
Read more at The Federalist