Politics and Ageism in Michigan’s COVID Response

By Doug Chalgian on August 27, 2020

The Department of Justice has announced that it will be investigating the way the Whitmer administration handled COVID infected seniors in long term care facilities.  I am certain the investigation is politically motivated.  I am also fairly confident that the creation of COVID colonies in nursing home wings was a bad plan, and a plan that was a product of ageism.

Let’s imagine that the people most at risk were young children.  Does anyone believe the afflicted children would have been housed in dedicated wings of daycare centers otherwise populated with healthy infants?  I don’t.

The problem is, any attempt to understand why such decisions are made, or how they should be made in the future, excites the politically engaged. The NPR and Rush Limbaugh crowds have created an environment where nobody in an elected position can acknowledge they made a mistake.  Members of these factions choose to believe that in the heat of the moment, political decision-makers from their party managed to make all the right calls, while decision-makers from the other party did everything wrong.  I still believe that most of us can appreciate that the situation required quick action, and that elected officials on both sides did some things right and some things wrong.

Here in Michigan, one wrong decision seems to have been the decision to place sick frail elders back in long term care facilities with those who were not sick.  That doesn’t mean our Governor is evil or incompetent.   She was making a lot of decisions and relying on a lot of advice.  She made some very good decisions.  This was a pretty bad decision.  As we reflect on this event, and consider how we could improve in the future, we could probably learn something about ageism from how our leaders reacted – but first we would have to get beyond the politics.

To read more on the DOJ investigation, click here.

mm By: Doug Chalgian
Doug Chalgian

7 thoughts on “Politics and Ageism in Michigan’s COVID Response

  1. Doug,
    I agree with your assessment. My spouse is a resident of Burcham Hill with MS and Congestive Heart Failure. Overall, my impression is that BH has done a decent job protecting their residents. While I am a supporter of Gov. Whitmer, these actions have not adequately protected those most vulnerable.

  2. Actually, I think the plan would work – if the facility had an area which could be shut off from the rest of the building, assigned certain staff members to work only in the quarentine area, the area had a seperate entrance/exit from the rest of the facility, etc., etc, etc. When my sisters were diagnosed with Scarlet Fever in the early 30s, the house was quarentined — mother and children inside, father outside for the duration. He could continue to work and bring needed supplies. But the groceries and other things were left outside the front door; and my mother couldn’t go out to get them until he had left the area. I think he stayed next door, where his in-laws lived. I wasn’t born until 1943, so I only had the family tales second hand, but I know that quarenting affected persons, to lessen the spread of communicable diseases, is an old and well established practice.
    Much of our current Covid-19 related misery and stress could have been avoided if the government (at all levels) had declaired ALL DEBTS temporarily suspended, and healt facilities temporarily closed for all but true emergency cases and people with Covid-19, and most importantly — all direct Covid related costs would be covered 100% by the Federal government. There are lots of other things I can think of that should have ben done, but they certainly weren’t going to be implemented by officials who monetize everything, and think of some people as being ‘worthy’ and declairing others expendable – apparently based on their net worth.Here’s a quote that ran recently on the AWAD service: A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
    When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character.
    This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatize those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.
    -Sarah Kendzior, journalist and author (b. 1978)
    (AWAD 5/14/2020)
    It sums up everything that’s certainly exacerbating our current situation.

  3. You have succeeded in alienating a new client with your partisan assessment. But maybe you don’t want clients who don’t support your politics or the power hungry Michigan governor.

  4. I think your a good lawyer and politics aside, I agree with Barb Carmichael and your assessment. I don’t agree with the Gov, on movie theaters either. But then I think of Sat afternoons and all the teens yelling and throwing things.How do you control that.
    Folks find somehting offensive and write someone off because of something they said.
    What happened to thoughtful dissent.
    I am so tired of all this.
    Thanks.

  5. A very strange conflation between the NPR and Rush Limbaugh “crowds.” I don’t think there is much overlap between the two. Full disclosure: I am on the board of Wisconsin Public Radio, an affiliate of NPR.

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