Federal Prosecutors Order PA and Three Other Governors to Turn Over Data Related to Nursing Home COVID-19 Deaths

nurisng home covid deathsOn August 26th, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it had sent requests to the governor of Pennsylvania, along with the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Michigan, seeking information on orders and directives that those governors’ offices issues with respect to nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, with officials at the Justice Department alleging those governors’ orders “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.”

Justice Department Seeks Nursing Home COVID-19 Data

According to the Justice Department’s press release, the Department stated that it was seeking data from the state governors to determine “if the state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.” This data includes the number of residents and nursing home staff confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, the number of nursing home-related COVID-19 deaths, and all state orders relating to nursing homes and COVID-19.

The press release alleged that the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit patients “often without adequate testing” for COVID-19; in particular, the Department cited a March order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that precluded nursing homes from denying admission of patients “solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” alleging that nursing homes were prohibited from testing a hospitalized patient who was otherwise medically stable prior to admitting the patient into the nursing home. The Department announced that prosecutors were considering whether to begin investigating violations of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act; however, the Department also noted that it had “not reached any conclusions about this matter” at the present date.

Governors Allege Political Motivation in Request

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pushed back against the Justice Department’s request as a politically-motivated effort by the Trump Administration to deflect blame for its own decisions during the pandemic, citing the timing of the request during the Republican National Convention. The governors argued that at least 14 other states had issued similar directives and guidance to nursing homes in their states but that only states led by Democratic governors were the targets of the Justice Department’s investigation. The governors further asserted that the orders they had issued were “based on federal guidelines” from the Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf stated that the governor’s office would provide the Justice Department “whatever information is needed to fulfill the request.”

Nursing Home Bears the Brunt of COVID-19 Pandemic

To date, the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease have killed tens of thousands of nursing home residents across the country due to the vulnerability of elderly residents, many of whom also have underlying medical conditions that render them especially susceptible to life-threatening complications from COVID-19. Despite a waning rate of community transmissions, health officials worry we are beginning to see a new spike in nursing home-related infections.

If you and your family have a loved one in a nursing home who contracted COVID-19, you might be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s and your family’s damages and losses if infections in your loved one’s nursing home facility spun out of control due to negligence and recklessness. A nursing home abuse and negligence attorney can help you and your family understand your legal rights and options and whether you may be entitled to compensation.

Contact a Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today

Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in Pennsylvania, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at the Marrone Law Firm, LLC represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Center City, and University City. Call (866) 732-6700 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 200 S. Broad St., #400, Philadelphia, PA 19102.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.