LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Republican Rep. Steve Johnson is using a report from the state auditor general to accuse the governor of undercounting the number of COVID-19 deaths among senior citizens.
Elizabeth Hertel, the public health director of Michigan, is accusing Rep. Johnson of asking the state auditor general to do a report based on data, saying that the lawmaker allegedly knew the report would produce a higher COVID death count than the governor’s original figure.
“I think having a headline that says our governor undercounted the number of deaths in long-term care facilities is politically expedient for them,” said MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel.
When asked if she believed the move was politically motivated, Hertel has no doubts that it was.
By law, Michigan’s health director has to count deaths in long-term care facilities that the state regulates, but she alleges that Rep. Johnson asked the auditor general to count other elderly deaths in other places not covered by state regulations, which she alleges produced the higher death count.
“They included facilities that are not actually long-term care facilities,” said Hertel.
Michigan’s Auditor General Doug Ringler’s conduct is also being questioned by the governor’s health director.
“I think this is questionable, yes. I think it’s concerning when the Auditor General’s Office is supposed to be known for facts and integrity, puts something out like this that is misleading. I think I’m very concerned about it,” continued Hertel.
So far, the Auditor General’s Office has not yet commented on the political back and forth between both sides.
But that hasn’t stopped Rep. Johnson from giving his opinion.
“If Director Hertel doesn’t care about the elderly who died, then she isn’t fit to be a director,” said Johnson.
The politician believes that the Whitmer administration is “lying and using character attacks to distract” from the governor’s decisions.