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Chaos at the State Department of Health

Pennacchio: Fired Deputy Commissioner Should be Called as Witness for Special Senate Committee

As reported in the New Jersey Globe, the state’s top health official in charge of emergency preparedness has been fired, and Senator Joe Pennacchio said it paints a disturbing portrait of the Murphy Administration’s COVID performance.

Fired high-level health department official should be one of the first witnesses for the Senate’s pandemic response investigation, Senator Pennacchio said. (

“With the revelation that the fired assistant commissioner of health claims he was being ‘scapegoated,’ and recent statements by the commissioner herself that she and the Governor had yet to have a ‘one on one meeting,’ a picture begins to emerge,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “A picture of a chaotic department that was in over their heads. A picture that saw the Administration safely fall back on and hide behind the skirts of the CDC, FDA, and WHO for guidance. A picture that had no forethought in COVID policy but rather played follow the leader with New York. An administration that became comfortable managing this mess instead of looking for ways to lead us out. The souls of 6,000 dead in our nursing homes and their families deserve answers now.”

New Jersey Globe also reported the man, Christopher Neuwirth said in a Facebook post available only to his friends that he was “blatantly scapegoated and fired.”

At the health department, Neuwirth oversaw emergency medical services and the state office of Disaster Resilience.

“The only way we’re going to get to the bottom of this mess is with a thorough and immediate investigation,” said Pennacchio. “The Senate should convene it’s special committee as soon as possible, and the former high-ranking official should be subpoenaed as one of the first witnesses.”



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