MDHHS: What Auditor General published is not comparable to the data we publicly share

The state of Alaska again has the highest COVID-19 case rate among all states, and reported...
The state of Alaska again has the highest COVID-19 case rate among all states, and reported more than 500 new cases over the past two days.(AP)
Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 4:55 PM EST
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) -Michigan’s health director is ordering nursing homes to offer on-site booster shots to residents as the Omicron variant surges.

According to the state, about 75-percent of eligible nursing home residents have gotten a booster dose. For the other 25-percent, this new order doesn’t require them to be boosted or even vaccinated.

The order comes as a report from the Auditor General’s Office was released about COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities. Findings of the report were discussed Thursday in a joint meeting of the house oversight and senate oversight committees.

“This is over half a year in the making. This report was not rushed, they took their time, they were thorough, they were diligent,” said state Rep. Steven Johnson.

Gov. Whitmer has faced criticism for COVID-related long-term care facility deaths because of an executive order she signed in 2020. MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel testified that the state never intentionally put anyone in harm’s way.

“No facility was ever forced to take a COVID-19 positive patient,” Hertel said.

Hertel also took issue with how the office of the Auditor General gathered their numbers. They said 8,061 COVID-19 deaths were tied to long term care facilities in Michigan.

“What the Auditor General published is not comparable in any way to the data that we publicly share,” Hertel said.

Hertel also said the report includes information from facilities that are not required to report COVID-19 deaths, but some lawmakers say they’re tired of semantics.

“Forget the bureaucratic bull. What were the numbers? And I don’t think those questions were asked properly. And that’s the problem I have, and I think many people in the state have,” Johnson said.

Even Johnson acknowledges 8,061 may not be the right number. He thinks it could be higher.

He gives credit to the state Auditor General for doing more than what he believes the MDHHS did.

“What the department did was nothing. All they did was they said alright those facilities that are required to self-report, we’re just going to take your numbers and put them online and say that’s the number. Didn’t lift a finger to actually verify, hey are these self-reported numbers accurate,” Johnson said.