A county prosecutor in Michigan has warned that he may criminally indict Governor Gretchen Whitmer for reckless endangerment after she forced nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients last year, allegedly causing more deaths.
"If we find that there has been willful neglect of office, if we find that there's been reckless endangerment of a person's life by bringing them in, then we would move forward with charges against the governor," Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido said Monday in an interview on Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ.
Lucido said patient confidentiality laws prevent him from gathering medical information on Covid-19 victims, but he said Macomb County residents who lost loved ones in nursing homes should gather information about the circumstances of their deaths and file a wrongful-death complaint with local police.
Whitmer's office issued a statement to WXYZ, calling Lucido's comments "shameful political attacks based in neither fact nor reality." The administration's policies "carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives."
But Lucido has been clashing with Whitmer over Covid-19 policies since last spring, when, as a Republican state senator, he called for state and federal prosecutors to investigate the governor's directive on nursing homes. Like New York's Andrew Cuomo and three other Democrat governors around the country, Whitmer came under fire for orders requiring nursing homes to accept patients infected with Covid-19.
Those orders were blamed for causing more Covid-19 deaths, and Cuomo is under FBI investigation for his handling of the pandemic, including an alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths. New York has had more than 15,000 nursing home residents die from Covid-19, and until a month ago, it had been undercounting the death toll by about 6,500. Cuomo aides reportedly doctored a Covid-19 report last July to undercount nursing home deaths by using a misleading methodology.
Michigan still hasn't released enough nursing home data to satisfy some observers, including Republican lawmakers in the state. Investigative journalist Charlie LeDuff told Fox News last week that he's suing Whitmer after trying for months to get accurate statistics on the Covid-19 death toll in Michigan nursing homes.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office is reportedly looking into requests to investigate Whitmer's order on nursing homes, but Nessel said she needs to see evidence of a crime to launch a full-fledged probe.