The most disturbing aspect of the Flint water quality fiasco was the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Genesee County and its concealment from the public. Eighty-seven people fell ill and ten died, nine if you want to be fussy about one victim lingering more than a month after diagnosis. By MDHHS’ definition, it isn’t Legionnaires’ Disease if you linger longer than 30 days after your hospital stay. So one of the ten Legionnaires’ Disease deaths got scrubbed from the statistics.
AP is reporting that Governor Snyder’s immediate subordinates were discussing whether the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak was related to Flint water quality by March 13, 2015 Harvey Hollins III, Governor Snyder’s Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives Director, received an eMail from former MDEQ Communications Director Brad Wurfel referring to the Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease cluster.
Far earlier, in 2014, Jim Henry in the Genesee County Health Department was emailing Flint city leaders, the Flint emergency financial managers, MDEQ, and MDHHS. MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden V. Wells said the June 2015 [Bohm] report on the first outbreak was shared with officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well. No one in this vast chain of communications felt compelled to inform the public.
Dr. Eden Wells replaced Dr. Matthew Davis as MDHHS’ Chief Medical Executive at the end of March, 2015. One has to wonder why Dr. Davis suddenly returned to U of M after only two years as the MDHHS Chief Medical Executive, in the midst of the first Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak. Did he jump, or was he pushed? Perhaps MDHHS Director Nick Lyon found the career MDHHS bureaucrat Dr. Wells more accommodating than Dr. Davis? It was four months after Governor Snyder consolidated MDCH into the new MDHHS. However, nothing in the U of M faculty manual suggests that Dr. Davis would have had to return to U of M to maintain his status there.
The public was not informed until Governor Snyder’s startling statement on January 13, 2016. Snyder said he himself was not informed of the Legionnaires’ Disease cluster in Genesee County until “days before” his public announcement. Michigan’s lefties have pounced on this 10 month delay, insinuating that Governor Snyder knew well before his announcement. This may or may not be true, and people will draw conclusions according to their political predilections. Facts no longer matter on this question, even if you could penetrate the wall of obfuscation.
Director Hollins now says there was not enough information to take the issue to the Governor. Essentially, he is saying that no one could prove the source of the Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease cluster, so there was no reason to disclose it to his superior. The other bureaucrats in this chain of communications also stayed mum, apparently following the same line of reasoning as Director Hollins.
There is a much bigger story here. One without any ‘he said, she said’ doubt.
It is now indisputable that a lot of CDC, MDEQ, MDHHS, and Genesee County Health Department bureaucrats knew of the first Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease cluster by March 2015 and concealed it from the Michigan public for over 10 months. Throughout the entire second Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease cluster .