Held government accountable with COVID-19 transparency
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation represented Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. LeDuff was investigating the state's reports on deaths in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities, but the department refused to provide data that would let him determine whether its reports were accurate. The department settled, and a preliminary investigation showed that the department was inaccurately reporting deaths in these facilities. This prompted the House Oversight Committee to ask the Michigan Auditor General to review the state’s numbers.
Our lawsuit, and a subsequent investigation, revealed that Michigan’s reporting of COVID deaths in long-term-care facilities was significantly inaccurate. Unfortunately, this inaccuracy resulted in COVID-19 being made to appear deadlier to the generally populace than it was — and less dangerous to the residents of long-term-care facilities. During the pandemic, the governor and other public officials asserted that science and data were the foundation for policies affecting nearly every aspect of Michigander’s lives. As the result of our work with LeDuff, we learned that the data was incorrect.