Whistleblowers: Gov. Murphy rarely consults with health officials on COVID-19 crisis

Whistleblowers say that Gov. Phil Murphy rarely consults with health officials when making decisions about the COVID-19 crisis.

News 12 Staff

Jun 2, 2020, 11:56 PM

Updated 1,420 days ago

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Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly claimed his policies to reopen New Jersey after the pandemic-related shutdown are rooted in science, citing the mantra that "data determines dates.”
But in a letter to state lawmakers, whistleblowers who identify themselves as members of the state's Pandemic Response Team say they have no idea what specific data points the governor uses to make those decisions, because he rarely consults with them. They say this leads them to conclude the administration is "making things up as they proceed or making decisions and justifying them on the back end."
Murphy declined to address the allegations saying, "We don't spend any time responding to anonymous anything."
Republican state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon is requesting a legislative investigation. "The governor says he’s paying attention to his health officials," he says. "The health officials themselves are saying 'no he’s not'. This is insane."
The whistleblowers are also demanding the resignation of their boss, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who they say bears much of the blame for the state's mishandling of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities. Nearly 6,000 residents of those facilities died from the virus. The insiders say many deaths could have been prevented had NJDOH required widespread testing sooner, rather than waiting until the end of April.
This confirms some of the findings of a Kane In Your Corner investigation into New Jersey's state-run veterans homes. Memos obtained by Kane In Your Corner showed that at the NJ Memorial Veterans Home at Menlo Park, healthy and sick patients were not "cohorted" separately until early May, despite state guidelines requiring it in March. In a late-April memo to residents' families, the home's CEO openly admitted the facility would soon be coming into compliance for the first time since widespread testing was becoming available.
Murphy offered Persichilli a vote of confidence, saying, "I've said it publicly with her, and privately to her, or with her, Judy is not going anywhere and she's as good as it gets."
Kane In Your Corner was not able to confirm or deny some of the other allegations in the four-page letter, since the whistleblowers are anonymous and neither the governor nor any members of his administration are offering any comment.


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