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People who've lost loved ones due to COVID-19 while they were in New York nursing homes attend a March protest and vigil in New York City. As of this month, Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Department of Justice has decided not to launch a civil rights investigation into whether policies in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan contributed to pandemic deaths in nursing homes, according to a letter sent to Republicans.

Why it matters: The Trump DOJ requested data from the three states plus New Jersey last August "amid still-unanswered questions about whether some states, especially New York, inadvertently worsened the pandemic death toll by requiring nursing homes to accept residents previously hospitalized for COVID-19," per AP.

The big picture: While the letter sent to House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) Friday said it wouldn't open investigate "any public nursing facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time," it stated that investigations into two New Jersey nursing homes remained ongoing.

  • Scalise in a statement described the decision not to open an investigation into the three other Democratic-run states as "shameful" and accused the DOJ of being "complicit in these Democrat governors' cover ups."

Of note: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been critcized for his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes early in the pandemic.

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, released a report in January accusing his administration of undercounting coronavirus deaths in nursing homes by up to 50%. Cuomo's office has said there's nothing wrong in the accuracy of the health department's numbers.
  • Cuomo has previously said the Justice Department inquiry was politically motivated.

What they're saying: Bobby Leddy, a spokesperson for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, said in an emailed statement that it was "deeply disturbing that Republicans sought to politicize" the pandemic.

  • "With both the United States Department of Justice and Michigan Attorney General rejecting these baseless attacks, it's time to end the political games and work together to get things done for Michiganders," Leddy said.
  • Leddy stressed that at "no point were nursing homes ever forced to take COVID-positive patients."
  • "Instead, we made the smart decision to require that residents who contracted this deadly disease be kept as far away from others as possible to prevent more people from getting sick," Luddy added.
  • There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the DOJ, nor from representatives for Cuomo or Penn. Gov. Tom Wolf.

Go deeper

9,000 NYC workers on leave due to vaccine mandate

Essential workers rallying against the vaccine mandate in New York. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

About 9,000 New York City workers were put on unpaid leave for refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.

Driving the news: New York City's vaccine mandate for all city employees went into effect on Monday. The 9,000 holdouts represent a fraction of the city's 400,000 employees.

Judge pauses vaccine requirement for Chicago police

New police officers are sworn into the Chicago Police Department. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

An Illinois judge paused a vaccination requirement for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) until a lawsuit between the department and its union is settled, CNN reports.

Driving the news: The local Fraternal Order of Police lodge says they were negotiating CPD's COVID-19 policy when the department implemented "unilateral changes" per CNN.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Nov 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

Andrew Cuomo is target of off-Broadway play

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In the early aughts I wrote thousands of words about Hank Morris, a New York political operative turned private equity placement agent turned convict. But until last night we'd never spoken. And he has some things he wants me, and by extension you, to know.

Driving the news: Morris is about to debut "A Turtle on a Fence Post," a musical comedy that he originally conceived as a one-man show while serving his multi-year prison sentence (the playbill credits Prisoner #11R0731 for the book). Previews began last week, with opening night on Nov. 14 at the off-Broadway Theater 555.

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