Late in the day on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, the DOJ announced that it “requested COVID-19 data from the governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.”
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is evaluating whether to initiate investigations under the federal “Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act” (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others. The Civil Rights Division seeks to determine if the state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.
On March 3, 2020, the Attorney General announced the Justice Department’s National Nursing Home Initiative. This is a comprehensive effort by the department, led by the Elder Justice Initiative and in strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that uses every available tool to pursue nursing homes that provide substandard care to their residents. As announced on April 10, 2020, the department is also investigating the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where COVID-19 has taken the lives of at least 76 residents.
The data requests and Soldiers’ Home investigation are not accusations of fault or wrongdoing by the states or any other individual or entity, and the department has not reached any conclusions about these matters.
You can view the letters sent to the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan at the bottom of the new release.