(The Center Square) – New Jersey Republicans say a new NJ.com report proves nursing home administrators informed the Murphy administration that an order requiring them to accept COVID-19-positive patients would lead to outbreaks and deaths.
According to the report, nursing home administrators expressed concerns about the order during a March 31 call with New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
“Patients will die,” the newspaper quoted an unidentified administrator as saying on the call. “You understand that by asking us to take COVID patients, by demanding we take COVID patients, that patients will die in nursing homes that wouldn’t have otherwise died had we screened them out.”
Republicans have launched a series of hearings into the Murphy administration’s COVID-19 response, but so far, Democrats have declined to join in the process. They have also scuttled SR-68, a resolution to create a bipartisan select committee with subpoena power.
“Nursing home administrators were crystal clear when they told Commissioner Persichilli they couldn’t safely admit COVID-19 patients without putting their other residents at risk,” state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, said in a news release. “They said COVID would spread through their facilities and people would die as a result of the dangerous order. Tragically, the Murphy administration ignored their prescient warnings and thousands of people died.
“We need a select committee with subpoena power to compel Governor Murphy’s team to testify under oath since they won’t voluntarily appear before the Legislature to answer important questions,” Pennacchio added. “Families who lost loved ones deserve to know why the Murphy administration ignored all of the warnings. How much more evidence will Trenton Democrats need before they stop blocking this important investigation?”
Murphy has denied that his administration’s actions led to deaths, saying their order was “crystal clear” about the steps nursing homes needed to take.
“If you were going to readmit a formerly COVID-positive resident, they had to be separated by floor, by wing, by building,” Murphy said during a media briefing last week. “The staff could not commingle.
“And by the way, went further, if you could not do that as a facility, you were mandated to come to the Department of Health and raise your hand and say, 'we can’t do this,'” Murphy added. “'Please help us find a different solution, a different location.' And in fact, that happened on a number of occasions. And that’s exactly what happened. So I have no time for the political noise. We’re still flying the plane.”
Still, New Jersey’s handling of the pandemic has received less scrutiny nationally than neighboring New York, where embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces similar questions about his state’s mandate that nursing homes accept medically stable patients, even those who were COVID-19-positive.
published here with permission