23 February 2016

Depraved Heart Murder

The Governor of Michigan can now be shown to have studiously ignored the outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in Flint, Michigan:
It was the Fourth of July, a warm summer night in 2014, but Tim Monahan was shivering in a thick blanket as he watched fireworks from his front yard here. By the next afternoon his temperature had shot to 104.6, and doctors at the hospital he had checked into puzzled over what was wrong.

Two days later, they had an answer: Legionnaires’ disease, a virulent form of pneumonia caused by a type of bacteria that can multiply in water systems. Mr. Monahan, now 58, was given antibiotics and eventually recovered, but his case turned out to be at the leading edge of a Legionnaires’ outbreak that sickened at least 87 people in the Flint region, killing nine of them, from June 2014 through October 2015.

State officials still say they cannot conclusively link the outbreak to Flint’s contaminated water supply, partly because sputum cultures were not collected from patients. But the possibility of a link was raised in internal government emails as early as October 2014, and state officials did not inform the public of the outbreak until last month.

The Legionnaires’ cases started popping up as Flint residents were complaining about the foul-smelling, discolored water flowing into their homes after the city switched to a new water source, the Flint River, in April 2014. Soon they were reporting rashes and stomach ailments, and whistle-blowers eventually pointed to alarming levels of lead in the water supply and in children’s blood.

An examination of government emails, and interviews with people who survived Legionnaires’ and relatives of those who died, shows the government response to the Legionnaires’ outbreak followed the same pattern that prevailed throughout the Flint water crisis: a failure to act swiftly to address a dangerous problem or warn the public.

Even as more residents became critically ill with Legionnaires’ disease, and some died, the officials remained mired in jurisdictional battles, according to emails released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the health department in Genesee County, which includes Flint. Some at the state level seemed more concerned about following bureaucratic protocol, and not raising public alarm, than protecting residents.
People were dying, and they knew it, and they deliberately did nothing.

It's depraved heart murder.


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