New Jersey’s Senate Republicans launched an online petition to investigate the 7,000 deaths reported at the state’s long-term care facilities, including nursing and veterans homes.
The petition called upon the public’s support to allow a bipartisan committee with subpoena power to investigate the COVID-19-related deaths at the facilities. The state GOP argued Democrats had blocked their prior attempts to investigate the Murphy Administration’s response.
“I can only hope that our online petition will demonstrate the public’s support for this effort and convince our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to do the right thing,” said State Sen. Joe Pennacchio in a press statement.
The online petition can be found at: https://www.senatenj.com/petitions/nursinghomes/
Prior Efforts to Investigate
Pennacchio, New Jersey co-chair of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, has tried to force the Senate to vote on a resolution he had put forth, but was blocked on three separate occasions: May 14, July 30, and Aug. 27.
“Since May, Senate Republicans have called for a thorough, bipartisan, and transparent investigation into the massive loss of life at our long-term care facilities,” said State Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean.
Additionally, Senate Republicans sent formal requests to Senate President Steve Sweeney on five occasions between May 13 and July 21, urging a special investigation into deaths at long-term care facilities.
Placing Blame on Murphy Administration
“Unfortunately, our repeated calls for the Legislature to form a special committee with subpoena power to perform this legitimate oversight of the executive branch have been ignored,” Kean stated.
The senators continued to blame Gov. Phil Murphy and his administration for the loss of life, with Pennacchio saying the deaths were “being swept under the rug” to protect the governor.
Additionally, the legislators placed blame upon administration officials.
“We need to talk to the administration officials who came up with the bad policies, veterans home administrators who were more concerned with optics than safety, and private sector operators who were subject to deadly state mandates to accept COVID-positive patients,” said State Sen. Steven Oroho.
As of Sept. 27, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 203,548 with 712 new cases and three new deaths, bringing that total to 14,315. The state probable death count increased to 1,791, bringing the overall total to 16,106.
State officials noted eight deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,899, followed by Bergen at 1,802, Hudson with 1,355, Passaic at 1,112, Morris at 686, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 243, Essex has 229, Hudson has 160, Morris at 145, Passaic at 143, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Sept. 21 was 2.2%. By region, the north has a rate of 1.5%, central at 3.1% and the south at 2.4%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one.
As for the rate of transmission, decreased for a second day in a row to 1.11, down from 1.12 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 416 patients are hospitalized, with 200 in the North, 95 in the Central and 121 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 88 are in intensive care units and 47 on ventilators, while 36 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 22,363, followed by Essex at 21,024, Hudson at 20,621, Middlesex at 19,379, Passaic at 18,982, Union at 17,602, Ocean at 12,903, Monmouth at 11,778, Camden at 9,860, Mercer at 8,628, Morris at 7,847, Burlington at 7,098, Somerset at 5,786, Gloucester at 4,489, Atlantic at 4,055, Cumberland at 3,778, Sussex at 1,490, Warren at 1,438, Hunterdon at 1,311, Salem at 1,062 and Cape May at 1,020.
Another 336 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state.
In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.
A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 48% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 31% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 162 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 6,555 of the cases, broken down between 4,033 residents and 2,522 staff.
Cumulatively, 720 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,114 residents and 13,600 staff, for a total of 38,714 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,158 on Sept. 27. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,780 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.