Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
the Lack of Accountability, Investigation into COVID-19 in Nursing Homes
July 29, 2021
I learned on Friday
that the Department of Justice has opted not to pursue a civil rights
investigation into government-run nursing homes in several states about their
Earlier this year, I urged
the department to pursue this investigation, and I today called
the Attorney General to reconsider this decision, in light of media
reports suggesting that obstruction of justice may have occurred in at least
one of these jurisdictions.
Close to one year ago, the department
sought information from four states – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and
Michigan – about the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in their public
nursing homes. The department’s requests for this information came on the heels
of media reports suggesting that state officials in these jurisdictions had
pressured nursing homes to accept patients regardless of their COVID-19
It was reported that officials in New York
also may have engaged in a cover up, by actively concealing from the public the
actual number of COVID-19 related fatalities in that state’s nursing homes.
Serious questions remain to this day about
whether governors in New York or these three other jurisdictions helped fuel
the COVID-19-related death toll in nursing homes through the issuance of
executive orders that went against the advice of geriatricians.
Yet the department is declining to pursue
the matter, and in the case of New York, this is particularly troubling.
New York’s governor not only reportedly
pressured nursing homes in his state to accept patients during the initial
stage of the pandemic, regardless of their COVID-19 status, but his
administration did not provide an accurate picture of the actual death toll to
This lack of transparency was done to
Simply put, the public deserves
According to a report by the New York
Post, a top aide to Governor Cuomo even apologized to a group of Democratic
lawmakers during a phone call for reportedly withholding data on COVID-19
related nursing home fatalities during this pandemic.
The department’s Civil Rights Division
won’t investigate, but at least the FBI and prosecutors at a U.S. Attorney’s
Office are looking into the matter.
These federal prosecutors’ review
reportedly focuses on whether Governor Cuomo’s administration under-reported
COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in an effort to avoid negative publicity.
At least someone is looking at this;
however, I’m disappointed that the Justice Department proper and Attorney
General Garland have decided to pull their punches.
As I stated today in a letter to the
Attorney General, it would be a grave injustice to those who perished in these
facilities during the pandemic to neglect to fully explore such widely reported
and troubling allegations.
And as others, too, have noted, promoting
more accountability and transparency is vital under these circumstances: it
would not only help prevent similar missteps in the future, but also maintain
public confidence in the department which is waning under the department’s