A top Republican in the State Senate believes this week’s election results show that an investigation into the coronavirus pandemic is wanted by the residents of New Jersey.
State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) renewed his call for the “immediate formation” of a State Senate Oversight Committee with subpoena powers to parallel the current investigation being conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice against the COVID nursing home actions of the Murphy Administration.
“The Legislature should spend the remaining portion of the current legislative session on a full and thorough investigation of the (Murphy) Administration’s COVID pandemic policies and the devastating effects they had, and continue to have, on the citizens of New Jersey,” declared Pennacchio in a press statement released Nov. 3. “Those 10,000 silent screams in nursing homes deserve no less.”
Calling the election results that appeared to have tightened the majorities Democrats held in the State Senate and Assembly “an earthquake that rattled” Trenton, Pennacchio said the gains by the GOP reflected the public’s lack of confidence after a year and a half of pandemic mandates.
“(Democrats) sat on the sidelines during one of the most important, neediest times in our state history,” said the GOP’s minority whip in the State Senate. “Instead of engaging and representing constituents, legislators circled their wagons and defended a governor instead of protecting the people against his arbitrary rules and edicts.”
Pennacchio has been one of the most vocal critics of the COVID-19 policies enacted by Gov. Phil Murphy over the last 21 months. The Morris County lawmaker has questioned the need for students to wear masks in schools, vaccine mandate policies, led a series of Republican hearings into the Murphy Administration’s handling of the pandemic and has promoted alternative therapies to combat the coronavirus such as hydroxychloroquine.
Repudiation of Democrats
The Republican lawmaker proclaimed the election gains made by his party were a result of New Jersey voters observing the inaction by the legislature and not liking what they saw.
“In response, the residents refused to reward many of those silent Democrats with another tenure in office,” said Pennacchio.
Despite what he characterized as the “draconian” measures the Governor enacted, Pennacchio noted New Jersey still had the highest per capita death rate in the world and state economy that has been slow to recover in his view.
“Murphy’s policies forcing nursing homes to accept COVID patients, preventing testing for COVID, and locking the doors contributed to the loss of 10,000 frail and elderly residents of those long-term nursing facilities,” he said. “As the federal government shoveled billions of dollars in COVID relief to New Jersey, the Administration and its Democrat acolytes sat on their hands while they saw one-third of New Jersey businesses fail.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,612,348 in-state, plus an additional 481,930 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,094,278 as of Nov. 4. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,879,375 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 206,707 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,086,082.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 418,433 for Pfizer and 212,930 for Moderna. A total of 6,184 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 638,350 have received a booster or third shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,403,487 doses (650,424 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,089,968 doses (510,436), Hudson 971,690 doses (459,947), Morris 762,328 doses (350,705), Passaic 672,976 doses (317,162), Sussex 179,758 doses (84,853), and Warren 117,753 doses (55,139).
As of Nov. 4, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,046,233 with 1,311 total new PCR cases. There were 336 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 157,522. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,203,755.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 34 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 25,219. The state listed probable deaths at 2,816, bringing the overall total to 28,011. State officials noted five deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Nov. 4, Bergen had a total of 98 new confirmed cases and 26 new probable cases, Essex 86 new cases and 25 new probable case, Hudson 50 new cases and three new probable cases, Morris 53 new confirmed cases and 26 new probable cases, Passaic 70 new cases and eight new probable cases, Sussex 47 new cases and 13 new probable cases, and Warren 16 new cases and three new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,850, followed by Bergen at 2,691, Hudson with 2,167, Passaic at 1,811, Morris at 1,040, Sussex at 267, and Warren County at 229.
In regards to probable deaths reported Nov. 1, Essex has 310, Bergen has 309, Morris has 266, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 71 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,730,278 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Oct. 18, 42,358 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 911 COVID-related hospitalizations and 249 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Oct. 11-17, breakthroughs accounted for 19.2% of all new cases (2,199 of 11,450, 3.3% of new hospilizations (24 of 725), and two of the 123 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Nov. 2, it increased to 0.99 from 0.96 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 30 was 4.8%; by region, the rate was 4.1% in the North, 5.3% in the Central region and 5.8% in the South.
The state reported 670 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 234 in the North, 191 in the Central and 245 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 170 are in intensive care units and 94 on ventilators. A total of 92 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators 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.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions as of Nov. 4, the state has tracked 137 school outbreaks and 794 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 11 outbreaks and 79 cases from the week previous.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey in the new report, Passaic County has eight confirmed outbreak with 93 cases, Bergen County has 14 confirmed outbreak with 64 cases, Sussex has 12 confirmed outbreak with 49 cases, Morris County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 33 cases, Essex County has six confirmed outbreak with 26 cases and Hudson County has six confirmed outbreaks with 22 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 135 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,286 of the cases, broken down between 698 residents and 588 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,801 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,970 residents and 23,191 staff, for a total of 57,161.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,639 on Nov. 4. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,997 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.