A new study shows COVID deaths in skilled nursing facilities were 72% higher where positive patients were admitted, the latest research illustrating the impact of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic edicts.

Researchers from Harvard, UCLA, University of Rochester, and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital compared outcomes for residents in places that allowed COVID-positive patients to be discharged from the hospital to skilled nursing facilities with places that didn’t from June 2020 to March 2021.

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The study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association last week, found “exposed facilities experienced 2.31 … additional cumulative COVID-19-related deaths per 100 residents compared with control facilities, representing a 72.4% increase compared with the sample mean of 3.19.”

“This cohort study suggest that admission of COVID-19-positive patients into the SNFs early in the pandemic was associated with preventable COVID-19 cases and mortality among residents, particularly in facilities with potential staff and (personal protection equipment) shortages,” the conclusion read.

The research suggests COVID deaths in Michigan’s senior living facilities, ordered by Whitmer to accept COVID positive patients, are much higher than the 5,600 widely reported by the media, and an investigation by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Charlie LeDuff confirms that’s the case.

LeDuff on Wednesday broke down why Michigan’s reported deaths vastly underestimate the true toll on his show No BS News Hour with Charlie LeDuff.

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Michigan media outlets “continue to report 5,600 deaths in long term care facilities. The true number is more like 14,000,” LeDuff said. “That means Whitmer buried 7,000 corpses in a statistical mass grave,” he added.

“That makes Michigan’s nursing home deaths by far the worst in America,” he said. “More than Florida, more than California, and almost as many as New York, which is twice as big and five times denser.”

LeDuff points to archived historic long term care data buried on the state’s website that reports total resident COVID deaths at 7,324, and an Office of the Auditor General report from 2021 that calculated total deaths at 8,061 based on data from the Electronic Death Registration System, Michigan Disease Surveillance System, Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Medicaid, and other sources.

While the former purports to include all deaths through the end of the pandemic on May 9, 2023, and the latter only included deaths through July 2, 2021, neither include all of the long-term care facilities originally included in Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-95 that allowed COVID-positive patients to return once stabilized at the hospital.

About 4,000 adult foster care facilities with fewer than 12 residents were excluded from the state’s data, or about 40% of those facilities in Michigan, as were assisted living facilities, which Definitive Healthcare estimates at 3,213, the second most in the U.S. behind California.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services “did not obtain any data from these facilities and eliminated the COVID-19 death reporting requirement for these facilities in October 2020,” the Auditor General report read, referencing assisted living facilities. “Because these facilities are not required to be licensed, we could not identify a complete listing of them and, therefore did not include them in our review.”

The report also noted that facilities it did review had underreported deaths by nearly 30%.

“We were promised science and data and it appears we received neither,” LeDuff said.

While states including New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and others with similar policies recognized that returning COVID-positive patients to nursing homes was a bad idea and quickly reversed course, Whitmer’s administration never did.

LeDuff put it all into perspective.

“This makes Michigan’s response and Whitmer’s response (to the pandemic) ripe for a special prosecutor,” he said Wednesday. “Instead of tamping down the pandemic, her response was to feed the flames. That led to more deaths, and then to lie about it.”