[Madison, WI] – The Evers administration severely undercounted COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities, making their response to COVID-19 appear much better than it was, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed on Thursday. The unreported deaths drove up the percentage of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in long-term care facilities from between 26 and 30 percent to nearly 50 percent.
The earlier reported percentages were significantly lower than the percentage of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in long-term care facilities in other states, making the Evers administration’s response look much better than it was. The Evers administration is now refusing to answer questions relating to how they determine if a COVID-19 death occurred in a long-term care facility or why it took them months to update who died in their numbers. The Evers administration also refused to hand over public records relating to COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.
If the Evers administration deliberately concealed information on COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities, it would be comparable to the disturbing actions of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is currently under FBI investigation. As Harvard Medical School Professor David Grabowski notes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, “When you delay that kind of data and make the nursing home problem or the long-term care problem look better than it actually is, you delay the response by policy makers to direct resources there… You’re basically flying blind.”
The Republican Party of Wisconsin released the following statement from Executive Director Mark Jefferson on this disturbing report:
“The fact that the Evers administration severely undercounted Wisconsin deaths in long-term care facilities is deeply concerning and raises serious concerns about what else his administration has been hiding during the pandemic. It appears this time that Gov. Tony Evers’ continued resistance to transparency may have hampered the state’s ability to ensure that some of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable were protected. Wisconsinites deserve to know if Gov. Tony Evers’ incompetence and secrecy cost Wisconsin lives.”