Renews Call for Senate Select Committee Investigation into Executive Branch’s Handling of Pandemic
What can the state do when the number of nursing home patients dying from COVID-19 is embarrassingly high? The answer for New Jersey, where more than half the virus deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, was to change the numbers.
Senator Pennacchio is again calling for a Senate Select Committee to investigate the Executive Branch’s handling of the pandemic after a report the Administration has altered the total of COVID-related nursing home deaths. (SenateNJ.com)
“It is a disturbing and ineffective attempt to cover up the extent of an ongoing tragedy that has wreaked havoc in nursing homes,” said Senator Joe Pennacchio after a published report that the state had altered its accounting of virus deaths in senior facilities.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health slashed the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes by 1,400, dropping the “official” number from 5,700 to 4,295.
“The Administration has yet to explain the disastrous policies that led to carnage among the vulnerable and fragile senior population that had been literally held captive in under-prepared facilities so somebody decided to cook the books and erase the loss of almost 1,500 precious souls,” said Pennacchio (R-26).
The state explained the accounting change, noting “health officials determined those residents had not received a lab-confirmed diagnosis for Covid-19 before they died,” according to a Politico New Jersey report. Going forward, only lab-confirmed virus deaths occurring at long-term care facilities will be included.
The explanation didn’t sit well with Pennacchio.
“Bodies were piling up in nursing homes across the state,” said the Senator. “If these people didn’t die from the virus spreading like wildfire within the institutions, what did they die from? Administrative neglect?”
Rather than accepting responsibility, the Governor wants to obscure the truth, and Pennacchio said. That is why the Senator is calling for a “real time Senate Select Committee now to evaluate Trenton’s handling of the pandemic.”
Pennacchio was one of 15 Republican senators who wrote to Senate President Sweeney last week calling for the formation of a Senate Select Committee on the Executive Branch’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Pennacchio has pledged to the families of the victims that their loved ones would not be forgotten, despite the feeble attempt to whitewash their loss.
“They must think we’re all knuckleheads to think that New Jersey citizens would not see through this transparent scheme. Do they really think we aren’t paying attention? We won’t let those who are responsible for the deadly policy mistakes hide behind a coating of white out and double-speak. Tragically, these victims were abandoned by a flawed system as the virus decimated facilities. I refuse to allow their deaths to be marginalized.”