Democratic leaders in the state Senate are rejecting calls for a bi-partisan investigation into nursing home deaths at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sens. Nia Gill, D-Essex, and Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, are sponsoring a resolution (SR48) to form an investigative committee to look into the more than 9,000 COVID related deaths in long-term care facilities in New Jersey.
Many of the deaths happened in the early days of the emergence of the virus. Critics say it’s because state policy required the return to nursing homes of infected patients released from hospitals, but the state says its directive required those residents to be housed separately.
Gill didn’t address that specifically when putting forth her resolution, but did say, “The only way that we can ensure the public receives the answers they deserve is to have this committee in the Legislature.”
Republicans have long called for such an investigation, but having Gill sign onto the proposal was thought to signal it might actually happen.
Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, expressed zero support for such an investigation.
The head of the Senate Health Committee, Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, told NJ.com that he will not post the resolution for a vote and seemed to mock the idea.
“Who’s gonna do (our) investigation?” Vitale asked, “Joe Pennacchio?”
Pennacchio has been pushing for an investigation since 2020 and now a co-prime sponsor of Gill’s proposal.
Gov. Phil Murphy has long promised a full accounting of what happened to cause so many nursing home deaths, but has thus far done nothing.
On Monday, Murphy told reporters he still plans to review the actions his administration took in regards to nursing homes, but not until the state is “substantially through” the pandemic.
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