“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in a statement on Thursday.
Deaths from these four states—32,000 in New York, 15,000 in New Jersey, 7,600 in Pennsylvania, and 6,600 in Michigan—make up more than one third of the total deaths from COVID-19 in the United States.
Texas, which has a population about 50 percent larger than New York’s, has a death rate of 380 people per million, while New York has a death rate of 1,680 people per million. Florida has a death rate of 480 people per million.
These states all adopted similar policies that mandated the admission of elderly people, who were infected with COVID-19, into nursing homes.
Cuomo’s executive order shows the policy:
“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. [Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
Cuomo, Murphy and Wolf issued their orders in March, while Whitmer waited until April 15.
The Justice Department said these orders may have “resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.”
The Civil Rights Division could file charges pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, a law that gives certain protections to people living in nursing homes.