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Michigan Senate committee pushes for documents related to spread of COVID in nursing homes

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A state Senate committee issued a subpoena Thursday to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It requires the department to share tens of thousands of documents related to the state’s response to the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and other congregate care facilities.

More than 5,000 people in those facilities have died from COVID. That's just a little less than a third of Michigan's total COVID deaths.

Senate Oversight Committee Chair Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) said he’s frustrated with foot-dragging to get documents he requested two month ago.

“In my opinion, the department has been a little bit coy here at times, where we ask for certain documents and then we get letters back saying, well those aren’t technically the way the documents exist even though we both know exactly what I was asking for.”

A department representative told the committee it's compiling the information, but needs to go through 55,000 documents.

Republican Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton) complained the department’s taken three months to act on the committee’s requests.

“Everytime we send something and we get something back, it sounds like they’re parsing everything out. So it appears obvious that, that, that department is trying to avoid producing the information.”

The subpoena was approved by the Senate Oversight Committee’s Republican majority on a three-to-zero vote. The only Democrat on the committee was absent.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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