State Sens. Kristin Corrado and Joe Pennacchio slammed the Murphy Administration’s slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, arguing this delay was leading to more deaths at nursing homes.
Pennacchio (R-26) said the rising death rate at long-term care (LTC) facilities in the state was a “heartbreaking indication” that the Murphy Administration was still making errors that were costing the lives of elderly residents.
Meanwhile, Corrado (R-40) argued that as tens of thousands of doses of the vaccine remained unused, the number of deaths at the state’s nursing homes tripled.
Degrading Conditions at Nursing homes, LTC Facilities
Pennacchio said conditions at nursing homes and LTC facilities spiraled in December 2020, with cases and deaths nearly doubling in 45 days.
He cited statistics from the New Jersey Department of Health showing a 132% increase in cases associated with outbreaks since Nov. 16. Additionally, fatalities spiked 62% during the period.
“The state continues to allow new COVID-positive patients into nursing homes, exposing and putting at risk the vulnerable residents who reside there. How do they justify that?” he asked.
A Delay in Vaccine Rollout
Corrado decried the death rate in the state’s nursing homes and LTC facilities, knocking the Murphy Administration for missing a federal deadline to detail which LTC facilities would receive vaccinations.
“Gov. Murphy tried shifting blame to the feds after states had their allocations of the vaccine reduced, but he hasn’t even used the doses he was given,” said Corrado. “At some point he has to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for these mounting failures. These nursing home deaths are on him and his inability to properly manage this crisis.”
The paperwork failure resulted in a one-week delay for the first vaccinations, with rollout beginning Dec. 28, 2020.
Corrado questioned why the Murphy Administration had yet to use more than 70% of the vaccine it was provided following the clerical error.
“After the administration missed a federal deadline that delayed the beginning of vaccinations in our nursing homes by a week, we’re now learning that most of the State’s allotment of the vaccine continues to sit unused. It’s utter incompetence,” she said.
Call for Investigation
Pennacchio reiterated his call for a State Senate Select Oversight Committee to investigate the Murphy Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The Rockaway Township resident noted an agreement to convene the committee was reached but has stalled over partisan issues.
“On three different occasions, motions to form this important Senate Select Committee were voted down on partisan lines with Democrats refusing to commit to the oversight,” he said. “The families of nursing home victims have no place to turn for answers because the State Senate turned its back on them.”
Pennacchio added, “The pandemic is more important than political gamesmanship, and the recent numbers make it crystal clear. The people sent us to Trenton to do a job, and it is time for the Senate to investigate the way the State has handled the COVID outbreak.”
On Jan. 6, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 504,647 with 5,028 total new PCR cases reported. There were 921 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 52,624. The total number of individual cases for the state is 557,271. Gov. Murphy noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urges those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 104 new deaths, bringing that total to 17,464 The state listed probable deaths at 2,059, bringing the overall total to 19,523. State officials noted 62 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 508 new confirmed cases and 89 probable cases, Essex 456 new cases and 43 probable cases, Hudson 433 new cases and 19 probable cases, Morris 171 new cases and and 51 probable cases, Passaic 244 new cases and and 40 probable cases, Sussex 58 new cases and 40 probable cases, and Warren 35 cases and nine probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,166, followed by Bergen at 2,089, Hudson with 1,562, Passaic at 1,322, Morris at 794, Sussex at 178 and Warren County at 171.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 266, Essex has 255, Hudson has 169, Morris at 187, Passaic at 159, Sussex has 46 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 2, was 15.0%; by region, the rate was 14.6% in the North, 14.9% in the Central region and 15.7% in the South. 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, it increased to 0.96 from 0.94 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 3,744 patients were hospitalized with 3,531 confirmed cases and 213 under investigation. By region, there were 1,529 in the North, 1,237 in the Central and 936 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 668 are in intensive care units and 456 on ventilators. While 449 patients were discharged, 459 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 49,480, followed by Essex at 49,329, Middlesex at 47,560, Hudson at 46,291, Passaic at 41,267, Union at 37,849, Ocean at 34,741, Monmouth at 34,193, Camden at 30,242, Burlington at 22,788, Morris at 21,426, Mercer at 19,707, Gloucester at 15,169, Somerset at 13,303, Atlantic at 13,081, Cumberland at 8,404, Sussex at 4,883, Warren at 4,197, Hunterdon at 4,020, Salem at 3,024, and Cape May at 2,535.
In regards to probable cases, Union had the most at 5,072, followed by Bergen at 4,955, Essex at 3,887, Ocean at 3,628, Hudson at 3,507, Morris at 3,378, Atlantic at 3,138, Passaic at 3,083, Middlesex at 3,078, Monmouth at 2,939, Somerset at 2,710, Camden at 2,694, Cape May at 2,307, Burlington at 2,137, Gloucester at 1,896, Cumberland at 1,473, Mercer at 960, Sussex at 606, Warren at 404, Hunterdon at 388, and Salem 332.
Another 1,158 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 111 outbreaks involving 557 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with six new outbreaks involving 11 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 102 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has five confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, Warren has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 83 cases. Morris is the only county in the state without an outbreak.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 431 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 12,699 of the cases, broken down between 6,093 residents and 6,606 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,173 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 30,379 residents and 19,528 staff, for a total of 49,907 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,570 on Jan. 6. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,389 residents deaths and 125 staff deaths.