There’s a new sheriff in town and that sheriff has decided to drop the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into thousands of New Jersey nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. The deaths have been attributed to a March 2020 order by New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and Governor Phil Murphy that forced long-term care facilities to house infected COVID-19 patients.
That decision is suspected to have lead to the deaths of nearly 10,000 elderly patients, nurses and workers in those facilities. Now, might never know after the Biden administration has dropped its investigations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
In late March, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichili ordered nursing homes, care facilities and veterans home to take infected COVID-19 patients into their buildings to avoid a possible overload at state hospitals. That overload never came, until an outbreak of COVID-19 in those facilities sent dying patients back to the hospitals, many left to die in the nursing homes.
In New Jersey, at least 7,000 died in nursing homes and an uncounted number transferred from nursing homes back to hospital intensive care units also died.
In August of 2020, under William Barr and Donald Trump, the Justice Department requested COVID-19 data from the governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.
On March 25, 2020, New York ordered: “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. [Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
On Friday, the DOJ notified U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise who is the ranking member of the U.S. coronavirus subcommittee it is ceasing its investigation.
The DOJ did not release any findings or conclusions in the matter, simply saying it will not investigate the matter any further. The investigation into two New Jersey state run facilities will continue.
“In October 2020, the Department opened a CRIP A investigation into conditions at two nursing facilities operated by the State of New Jersey. The ongoing investigation of the Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park and the Veterans Memorial Home at Paramus is being conducted jointly by the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey,” the DOJ said.