Gov. Whitmer says COVID-19 nursing home policy was best guidance at the time

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has come under fire for a lot of decisions over the past four months as she's tried to navigate the state through a deadly pandemic. One of those is a policy that allowed nursing homes to house COVID-19 patients and she says the state was following the best advice at the time.

In a town hall with Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Whitmer said that the state was following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and prevention when COVID-19 patients were housed with non-coronavirus patients in nursing homes.

"We know that this experience has played out across the planet frankly but we’ve seen it in real-time here in the U.S., first in Seattle then of course across the U.S.," she said. "In every step of the way we've followed the CDC best guidance and our policies reflected that. All of the efforts that we've taken to keep people safe by closing down the ability for outsiders to come in, our policy with regard to...we never once required that nursing homes took COVID-19 patients. Many chose to and when they did they followed the promulgated practices from the CDC about separation and not having intermingling at all."

Roop Raj asked that question around the 30-minute mark in the player below. App users, tap here to watch.

In that time, the entire world has learned so much more about the novel virus and we're learning more and more about hit affects our older population, particularly people with illnesses or pre-existing conditions. 

But Whitmer admits that following best practices ended with lives being lost to the virus. 

"In the early days, following the CDC was the gold standard. That's what we were doing," Whitmer said. "Our nursing home death numbers are far too many but are better than in many other states. At the time we followed the protocols the CDC has prescribed."

In the end, Whitmer says if she had the knowledge she has now, she would do things differently but says it was CDC guidance.

"We followed the protocols that they prescribed and that's the best any state was able to do, frankly," she said. "We always have a mindest we are going to be conservative and follow the science. And sometimes that makes us a leader and in other ways, it's made us average with other states. With nursing home experiences, it's the latter."