State AG investigates nursing home COVID-19 deaths as death toll rises

New Jersey health officials said Tuesday that a new mass testing project in 16 southern New Jersey facilities found that a quarter of the residents were infected with the virus – including many who were asymptomatic.

News 12 Staff

May 5, 2020, 10:16 PM

Updated 1,450 days ago

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The coronavirus is continuing to ravage New Jersey’s nursing homes and assisted living communities.
New Jersey health officials said Tuesday that a new mass testing project in 16 southern New Jersey facilities found that a quarter of the residents were infected with the virus – including many who were asymptomatic. This comes as half of New Jersey’s 8,244 COVID-19-related deaths were patients inside long-term care facilities.
“We recognize that increased testing in these facilities, especially those that have yet to experience large outbreaks, is critical in stopping the spread,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s office is investigating the deaths and the procedures at these facilities. He began the investigation after an outbreak at the Andover Subacute Nursing Home in Sussex County left 67 residents dead.
“The goal of our investigation is to look backward and to determine what went wrong,” Grewal said.
The findings of the ongoing probe could be used to suggest improvements at all New Jersey nursing homes in the future. Grewal says that so far, the investigation has not uncovered any criminal conduct.
But he said, “We’re willing to go wherever the facts take us. We’re willing to devote whatever resources are needed to figure out what went wrong, and if someone did something wrong, to hold them accountable.
Photos: Your Coronavirus Pandemic Experience
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Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that four long-term care facilities have been issued plans of correction by the state.
Meanwhile, the governor revealed encouraging signs that positive COVID-19 cases are slowing statewide.
“There are now a majority of counties where the virus is taking more than 30 days to double. That is a big deal,” Murphy said.
But he pushed back against opinions that it was time to more quickly reopen the state’s economy.
“Nobody is itching more to get this state back up and running than yours truly and the team up here,” Murphy said. “But we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to do it responsibly and we are committed to that, frankly folks, whether you like it or not.”
Former Gov. Chris Christie is one of the critics urging states to reopen their economies.


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