As bombshell revelations are revealed regularly regarding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's order to send COVID positive patients into elderly care facilities and the subsequent cover up on the number of related deaths, questions are now being asked about other Democrat governors who followed similar plans.
It was revealed in November that Washington Democrat Governor Jay Inslee’s Department of Social and Health Services issued directives to "transition" COVID positive patients to primarily to "alternative settings" with nursing homes being the "primary strategy" in order to "…create capacity for hospitals." Nursing homes that admitted the COVID positive patients were offered Medicaid funds.
The letter was dated almost three weeks after the virus outbreak in Washington State swept through a nursing home in Kirkland, killing the majority of residents. As a result of the spread, Washington was the initial epicenter of the virus in the US.
It appears that the elderly who contracted the disease but "who no longer were in need of acute care" were eligible to transfer to these alternative facilities even if they were not prior residents. Then "Home and Community Service staff" would work with the "eligible individual and their family to transition to a permanent home and community based setting of their choice." Which meant that patients and families could select an elderly care facility they were not previously a resident of.
A week before the letter was sent, Inslee was already issuing proclamations recognizing the need to protect people aged 60 and older from the virus—which begs the question why a department under his authority was asking for nursing homes and care facilities to take COVID positive patients.
"Alternative settings" could have been local hotels or other facilities that would not have posed a risk to other elderly residents. King County bought and rented hotels to be used as quarantine facilities for area homeless. Occupants of area homeless shelters were spread around the county to implement distancing measures and thereby reduce contact.
In March 2020 an Army field hospital was established at Century Link (now Lumen) Field for non COVID patients, was re-deployed elsewhere on April 8 due to a lack of patients. Inslee said at the time the field hospital was requested due to concerns that local hospitals would be overwhelmed with COVID patients and unable to care for everyone who needed medical attention. He also said the request was made prior to the full implementation of distancing measures.
Governor Inslee expanded the directives he made for nursing homes to long-term care facilities on March 26. In proclamation 20-36 on March 30, almost a month after the outbreak in Washington nursing homes, Inslee mentioned in anticipation of hospitals being overwhelmed a need to "…waive portions of licensing statutes and rules" so healthcare facilities could provide alternative beds for COVID patients.
Newly revealed documents obtained by The Post Millennial through a public disclosure request show that the Department of Health knew of the risks posed by the virus to the elderly and instructed long term and elderly care facilities on mitigating risk to patients even before the request for the facilities to take infected patients was made.
On March 24 2020, several days after the offer of COVID positive patients in exchange for Medicare funds was made, the DOH released guidelines for accepting these cases into the facilities.
"Accepting a Resident Who Was Diagnosed with COVID-19 from a Hospital. Long-term care facilities should admit residents with COVID-19 who are no longer acutely ill back to their longterm care residence. The decision to admit should be based on clinical care needs rather than the need for transmission-based precautions."
The document also offered guidelines on accepting patients who were "7 days since onset AND 72 hours since resolution of fever without antipyretics and symptoms improving." Testing was not yet widely available and so the document described testing and "Non-test-based' strategies.
When asked about the documents, a spokesman for the Governor's office told The Post Millennial, "The state does not send individuals with COVID back to nursing homes. The state does not have the authority to send any individual back to a nursing home. Nursing homes make decisions about admissions/readmissions."
A request from Governor Inslee on behalf on Washington State included a request for Medicaid waivers. "The 1115 waiver would provide enhanced federal funding for local health jurisdictions and services and to create capacity by expediting patient discharge from hospitals."
When asked about the lack of testing available at the time the spokesman blamed the Trump administration and said "We needed more testing materials than we were getting from the previous administration at the time, but testing was still happening."
Yet even though the spokesman claimed testing was available, in the same request to the federal government, Inslee requested to "Expand Testing Capacity at Commercial Labs. We need the federal government's help in bringing commercial labs online to begin testing for COVID-19 in Washington.
"Specifically, we need FDA to promptly approve labs' applications for emergency use authorization (EUA) and we need the Administration to persuade commercial lab companies, such as Quest, to agree to offer testing. These labs are a critical part of expanding our testing capacity in Washington at the scale we need."
A source told The Post Millennial that at the multiple long term care facilities they worked at, as well as many others testing was not available. According to the source, the staff was doing the best they could to separate and quarantine those with symptoms. According to the Seattle Times, "nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and adult family homes, account for half the state’s now-almost 5,000 deaths."
Yet as of February, data was still being inaccurately reported regarding long term care facilities.
According to the Seattle Times, "nearly 200 nursing homes have experienced at least one outbreak, and some have had multiple, according to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Only a handful of buildings have gone without a single infection. In King County, 455 people connected to nursing homes have died, accounting for a third of the county’s total deaths."
Washington was not alone in offering funds to facilities to accept COVID positive patients. According to The Federalist, many other Democrat controlled states took similar approaches. New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania "nursing homes were required or encouraged to admit COVID-positive patients."
The outlet cited a report which "found a direct correlation between patients discharged by hospitals and COVID-19 cases." Like Washington, the other states listed have also not been transparent with their data.
Republican state legislators in Michigan have called for investigations into the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic.
"Gov. Whitmer's regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities. Questions remain regarding the accuracy of data, compliance with CDC guidelines and compliance with our state’s Freedom of Information Act. There is a critical need for a full investigation into these matters."
One of the many questions that remain in Washington is: Given the tragic amount of deaths in Washington long term care facilities, which facilities accepted the state's offer of Medicaid funds in exchange for taking the COVID positive patients?