PITTSBURGH, PA — A Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor is calling for a stronger investigation into COVID-19-related nursing home deaths.
Pittsburgh attorney Jason Richey said last week that Attorney General Josh Shapiro isn’t doing enough to hold nursing home and state officials accountable for the thousands of Pennsylvanians whose deaths could have been prevented.
“Thousands of our most defenseless Pennsylvanians died because of negligent actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and who is being held responsible?” said Richey, a partner and litigator at Pittsburgh’s K&L Gates law firm. “It’s time that Josh Shapiro stops playing political games and holds those who abandoned the families of our senior citizens accountable for the dereliction of their duty.”
Richey’s call to action comes on the heels of a Department of Justice announcement that it will not open a civil rights investigation into nursing home deaths in three states, including Pennsylvania.
“We have reviewed the information provided by these states along with additional information available to the Department,” DOJ officials wrote last week. “Based on that review, we have decided not to open a (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act) investigation of any public nursing facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time.”
In total, 13,404 of Pennsylvania’s 27,838 deaths attributed to COVID-19 occurred in a long-term care facility since March 2020. To date, only two nursing home officials have been charged by Shapiro’s office for negligence, despite Shapiro’s vow in May 2020 to investigate all nursing homes engaging in criminal neglect of residents.
Richey underscored the importance of officials being held responsible for their actions — including those at the state level.
“It’s been 14 months since Josh Shapiro made Pennsylvania an empty promise that justice would be served,” Richey said. “Shapiro has had a chance to do the right thing as the attorney general, instead, he made political maneuvers with token hollow investigations that advance his gubernatorial ambitions and political agenda. It seems as if Josh Shapiro has put his personal agenda ahead of the 13,404 people who died alone in nursing homes and their families. And they deserve better.”
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