OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
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Last month, Huffington Post reported the FBI opened an investigation into the nursing home scandal embroiling New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Washington Times reported on similar concerns in Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The ever-objective (sarcasm) Politifact also ran a story this week chronicling the fallout ensuing under Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It’s evident that State Executives worked to cover inconvenient truths (thank you, Al Gore, for this timeless and ironic epithet). What remains to be known is whether they acted independently or colluded in the process.
When I was a younger man, the scandal surrounding the death of the elderly or invalid centered on a man named Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He was brandished “Dr. Death” for assisted suicide cases in which he helped patients cross into the aether. In 2021, Kevorkian is to norm-breaking deaths what my 8-bit Nintendo is to my daughter’s high-flying VR gaming computer. Yes, my trusty Nintendo meets the definition of a ‘gaming system,’ but that’s where the similarities end. Jack Kevorkian is a bedtime story compared to the Governors of Death, as they dispassionately climb the political ladder, stepping on body after body of the elderly in their supposed ascent.
I wrote in my novel, The Borderlands, about power-hungry politicians who had no compassion for the bodies they stacked along the way. At the time, I had almost to suspend disbelief that what I was writing could ever be accepted by the public as a plausible dystopian outcome. Less than a year later, I’ve been correct on more occasions than I can count. I digress. That’s not what I want to focus on here, aside from the fact that life often imitates fiction. Instead, I found some alarming research about nursing home deaths across the country that lead me to wonder if we will see more governors entangled in the deadly net.
The AARP has been monitoring nursing home deaths since last summer. Their March 2021 report highlights a continued shortage of PPE and death rates higher than those reported in the summer of 2020. I would offer that the contraction and death rates from 2020 need a forensic review to show the actual numbers many of us suspect in the wake of scandal after scandal.
The National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys believes that nursing home deaths account for 35 – 40% of all COVID deaths. Their analysis shows the top five states in terms of deaths-per-1,000-nursing-home-residents are Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Louisiana. I suspect a forensic review would dramatically alter this data. Illinois, New York, and Michigan sit at nine, ten, and eleven, respectively, in their analysis. We are left to wonder which states provided accurate data and which did not.
Is Louisiana in the same league as Michigan and New York? It’s hard to know right now. Perhaps, Louisiana decided to play it straight. Their numbers may look different a year from now when we have more data to reflect on from the numerous states caught underreporting death counts. In truth, that’s a sidebar issue. It doesn’t detract from the Governors of Death and their misdeeds.
Looking closer at the top-eleven states for nursing home deaths-per-residents provides an opportunity to compare COVID policy approaches. Nine of the eleven states have a Democrat governor. The two that don’t (Maryland and Massachusetts) have voted Democrat for President since 1988 and 1984, respectively. It should be noted that population density likely plays a part in most of the states represented in this sample. How much that impacts the death totals is something for future academic study.
Emergency powers and politically-motivated governors rarely end well for average citizens. We can see the power-drunk policies playing out as we are teased with a potential reopening to varying degrees. For some reason, we accepted the yearlong closure of life as we know it. Taking the cruel deaths of our elderly loved ones is too much for us to stomach.
The Governors of Death have left their mark on our lives in ways we won’t be able to realize for years to come fully. Rudolph Rummel coined the term “democide” to describe a government using its authoritarian control to kill unarmed citizens intentionally. While some would balk at the use of the word in the instance of the nursing home deaths, it’s growing increasingly difficult to frame the tragedy from any other angle.
As always, this has been the World, According to Chris.
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