Evers Administration Undercounts Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities

The Evers Administration Won’t Answer Questions About the Delay in Counting COVID-19 Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities

  • On Thursday, March 18, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that health officials in Governor Evers’ administration had undercounted nearly 1,000 past COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities.
  • The unreported deaths drove up the percentage of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in long-term care facilities from 26 percent to nearly 50 percent.
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that “those earlier percentages were much lower than in most other states, including many neighboring ones,” making Governor Evers’ COVID-19 response look better than it actually was.
  • By making the response in long-term care facilities look better than it actually was, the Evers administration was making the response elsewhere look worse than it actually was by extension.
    • This inaccurate data also could have impacted decisions that affected everyday Wisconsinites, such as school closures and lockdowns on small businesses.
  • The Evers administration is refusing to answer questions about why it took months to update the data and how long ago these deaths occurred.
  • The Evers administration also refused to provide public records on COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.

Republicans are Demanding Answers from Governor Evers on Why it Took Months to Update This Crucial Data

  • Republicans are demanding answers on why it took months for the Evers administration to update this crucial data while most other states are able to classify COVID-19 deaths in a timely fashion.
  • State Senator Patrick Testin and state Senator Alberta Darling are calling for the Legislative Audit Committee to investigate what caused the delay in reporting COVID-19 deaths.
  • The Wisconsin Republican congressional delegation also sent a letter to Governor Evers expressing their concern and demanding answers.
    • The Congressmen noted that had medical professionals been aware of the extent of the problem in long-term care facilities, they could have provided targeted relief to these locations to ensure that our most vulnerable were protected.
    • Governor Evers could also have used this data to inform his vaccine rollout and allowed residents of these facilities to get vaccinated sooner.
  • Before news broke about Wisconsin’s undercounting of deaths in these facilities, the Wisconsin congressional delegation had raised the concern that Wisconsin was dead last nationally in vaccinating seniors in assisted living homes.
  • Governors of other states that have been struggling, like West Virginia, have called for investigations into the delays in their states or made adjustments in how deaths are reported.
  • Meanwhile, Governor Evers has dismissed the problem entirely, saying that even if he knew that seniors in long-term care facilities accounted for nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin, “it wouldn’t have made any difference in [his] outreach.”
  • Governor Evers’ dismissal of thousands of deaths in long-term care facilities and refusal to recognize that his administration’s failures are a problem reveal a gross disregard for the lives of Wisconsin’s seniors and most vulnerable citizens.

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