The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to open a civil rights investigation into nursing homes in New York and two other states regarding their COVID-19 response, dealing a blow to several Republican lawmakers who had demanded a probe.
One underlying issue is whether three states with Democratic governors – New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania – inadvertently added to the coronavirus death toll in the early stages of the pandemic by allowing nursing homes to take in residents who had been hospitalized for COVID-19.
In a letter released late on Friday by the office of U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, the Justice Department said it had reviewed information provided by the states and, based on that data, it was not opening a civil rights investigation into “any public nursing facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time.”
The department noted that two other investigations, into a pair of nursing homes in New Jersey, remain ongoing.
Nursing homes across the United States took in COVID-19 patients in the early weeks of the outbreak, a move critics say spread the sometimes fatal respiratory virus among some of the country’s most vulnerable at a time when there was no vaccine.