January 15, 2022

Michigan Governor Undercounted COVID-19 Deaths, Report Claims

An imminent report from Michigan’s auditor general is expected to show that state health officials undercounted COVID-19 death in nursing homes by roughly 30% — a figure that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is already refuting.

Auditor General Doug Ringler is expected to release the full report next week, alleging a drastic undercount of covid deaths in long-term care facilities, the Detroit Free Press reported.

While the data is expected to show an undercount of around 30%, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff said that figure could be as high as 42%.

But state health officials are already refuting the report’s findings. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel argued that the figures came from combining covid deaths at facilities subject to state or federal reporting requirements and those that aren’t.

“I fear that your letter will be misinterpreted to question the work and integrity of long-term care facilities, local health departments, coroners and other frontline workers who we rely on to report data,” Hertel wrote in a letter to Ringler, the auditor general.

Still, state lawmakers rebuked the Whitmer administration over the auditor general’s preliminary findings.

“The number reported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration was 30 percent lower than what the Auditor General has found. Make no mistake – this is a large discrepancy, and the report makes that clear,” said Rep. Steve Johnson, chairman of the Michigan House Oversight Committee.


Officials refute report expected to allege undercount in COVID-19 long-term care deaths

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