Emails show state officials knew about Legionnaire’s Disease, months before the public found out

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Internal emails show high ranking officials in the Snyder administration knew about an outbreak of legionnaire’s disease, months before the public found out.

The emails, obtained by the group Progress Michigan, date back to months before the governor said he was briefed on the outbreak.

While many are stepping up efforts to fix the problems in Flint, it seems as though the situation is slowly getting worse, and many say the timeline of events doesn’t seem to be adding up.

Here’s why, when Governor Snyder revealed details about the spike in January, he said he had just learned about it a couple of days earlier, but emails show that Snyder’s office knew about the outbreak 11 months before that.

The Associated Press got their hands on emails as well, revealing state agencies knew about it, too.

Here are some of the details in those emails.

On March 13, 2015, former DEQ Spokesperson Brad Wurfel, sent an email to former DEQ Director Dan Wyant, laying out a couple of bullet points saying there’s been a “significant uptick” in the legionnaire’s cases in Genesee County.

It goes on to say that since April, more than 40 have been reported, which is more than all the cases in the last five years or more combined.

On March 10, 2015, Jim Henry, the Environmental Health Supervisor for the Genesee County Health Department, sent an email to state officials saying: “The increase of the illness closely corresponds with the timeframe of the switch of the Flint River water..” he then goes on to say, “This situation has been explicitly explained to M-DEQ and many of the city’s officials. I want to make sure in writing that there are no misunderstandings regarding this significant and urgent public issue.”

He then asks to meet with the DEQ regarding these concerns, to which he says the DEQ declined.

On March 12, 2015, DEQ District Supervisor, Stephen Busch, writes back to Henry, saying the office never received a request for a meeting, but agrees something should be done in the future.

Just hours after those emails were brought to light Thursday, statements started pouring in from state lawmakers; Some of them calling for the governor to resign.

Senator Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D) Flint released this statement saying:

“Once again, this administration knew for nearly a year that the lives of people in my community were in danger. They knew and they did nothing. Where is the moral fiber? At what point do they care that people are dying and take steps to actually address the issues?”

State Senator Rick Jones however said the finger pointing should stop, while efforts focus on rebuilding Flint.

“Lets let these investigations go ahead and make sure that if there’s anybody that has done something wrong with their results, they haven’t turned them in, they fudged them, anything at all like that, they should be held accountable,” Senator Rick Jones said.

Senator Rick Jones put in an amendment on an appropriations bill today, to make sure that no one in Flint paid for their water bill when they couldn’t drink the water, so from April 2014, until the water is declared safe.

Progress Michigan has posted those emails onto their website. Click here.

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