Governor Carney should be added to the US Attorney General’s list of states under investigation for sending COVID-19 positive patients back to long-term care facilities.
Delaware had the eleventh highest death rate from COVID-19 per 1,000 residents in long-term health care facilities for states as of September 6th according to the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
At its peak in April and May, two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths in Delaware were in long term care facilities. This tragedy can be traced to Delaware Governor Carney’s April 15, 2020 State of Emergency Amendment 11 which stated:
“For facility residents admitted to or seen at a hospital for COVID-19, the residents shall be allowed to return to the facility as long as the facility can follow the approved CDC recommendations for transmission-based precautions. A negative COVID-19 test shall not be required prior to a resident’s return to a facility.”
US Attorney General William Barr is investigating orders from governors in five states, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and California for returning COVID-19 positive patients in long-term care facilities.
Three of the five states under investigation had lower death rates than Delaware. These actions put other patients at risk. The Justice Department Civil Rights Division is requesting data such as:
- Chronological list of all hospital discharges to long term care facilities
- Data on deaths in such facilities
- Copies of communications among governor’s offices, state health departments, and long term care facilities
- Information and science used by government officials to inform decisions regarding sending COVID-19 patients back to long term care facilities
In Delaware, from March 11, 2020, to October 1, 2020, 380 deaths occurred in 30 nursing homes spread around the state, ranging from a single death to the highest number recorded at a single facility of 41 deaths.
While Governor Carney did not directly order nursing homes to accept sick patients without allowing testing, his order certainly encouraged hospitals stressed over potential overcrowding to do so. The Justice Department needs to add Delaware to the list of states under investigation.