Gov. Rick Snyder learned about outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint one month prior to January 2016, which is when he publicly stated he was informed, according to the Detroit Free Press. Harvey Hollins III, one of Snyder’s aides, provided the information in a testimony on Friday.
Legionnaires’, a bacteria-caused pneumonia, was one of the many fatal health effects of the Flint water crisis.
Hollins said he met with the Flint Water Advisory Task Force in December 2015 to address the alleged outbreaks; he then called the governor to inform him. However, in March of 2016, Snyder told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he held a press conference the day after he found out.
Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel, communications director for the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Democrats, wrote that she was not surprised to hear of Snyder’s wrongdoing in a message to the Daily.
“The fact that Rick Snyder knew about Legionnaires in Flint in December 2015 and didn’t call a press conference until January 2016 isn’t surprising considering his poor handling of the crisis in general,” Schandevel wrote. “This is just another example of government failing to prioritize the health and safety of marginalized communities.”
The University's chapter of College Republicans did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.
According to the Free Press, Hollins said in his testimony that after learning the information, Snyder gave instructions to Richard Baird, one of his top aides, to contact Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Lyon is currently facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in conjunction with the water crisis; the Legionnaires’ outbreak is crucial to his case. Lyon could face these charges for causing the death of an 85-year-old man, who was diagnosed with the disease.
Hollins’ testimony occurred during the fourth day of Lyon’s preliminary examination — now halted and set to continue Nov. 1 — which will determine if his trial will proceed to the circuit court.