TRENTON, NJ – At least two more civil liability and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the state of New Jersey over a controversial decision by Governor Phil Murphy in March of 2020 to send COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes. That order, the lawsuits and a federal investigation claim resulted in the countless deaths of aging senior citizens in nursing homes across the state.
State Senator Joe Pennacchio claims that the decision lead to the loss of almost 10,000 lives in senior facilities and slammed the Democrats who control all branches of state government for not wanting to launch an independent investigation.
“The legal filings cite many of the concerns we’ve been voicing since early in the pandemic,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “Two years after first calling on the Senate to look into COVID’s devastating impact on long-term care facilities, the fog of reticence continues to obscure any hint of transparency or accountability.”
“Unfortunately, the truth will remain buried until the Legislature steps up. A bipartisan Senate Select Committee with subpoena power to compel testimony is the only way the facts and details will come out,” Pennacchio continued. “Senate should have acted when I first called for an investigation in May 2020, when COVID has already claimed 4,800 elderly residents,” said Pennacchio. “So much time was wasted.”
It has been two years since former Democrat Senate President Steve Sweeney called for an investigation. To date, there has been no movement on the matter.
Pennacchio said immediately renewed continuing efforts to convene a Select Committee, but as they had on five separate occasions over 19 months, the Senate Democrats blocked his attempts to bring his resolution, SR-68, up for a Senate vote.
In December 2021, the Murphy Administration confirmed a $53 million settlement with 119 families of veterans’ home residents who died during the pandemic.
“We’ve all seen enough stalling and foot-dragging,” said Pennacchio.
“Paramount to the State’s pre-settlement discussion is this question: What impact did state policy have on the nursing home deaths? We’re still waiting for answers,” Pennacchio said.