Federal officials recently announced they may investigate the large number of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in Pennsylvania’s state-run nursing homes.
The Justice Department has given Gov. Wolf, along with the governors of New York, New Jersey and Michigan, two weeks to respond to questions about the deaths, said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain, in a statement.
All the states have Democratic governors.
Gov. Wolf has not yet responded publicly to the matter. A majority of coronavirus deaths in the state have been attributed to nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities. Bucks County officials have declined to comment on the issue. About 80 percent of COVID -19 deaths in the county were in nursing homes, according to public health records.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said in a statement. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”
It’s been reported that the four states required some long-term care facilities to accept patients to alleviate overcrowding in hospitals at the start of the pandemic. Authorities allege those patients were not properly tested for the coronavirus before being admitted.
The Justice Department’s investigation is considering whether the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Person Act was violated.