Pennacchio is seeking an inquiry into Covid deaths in veterans’ and care homes and says he has been silenced

Senate Deputy Minority Leader Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) said he was not allowed to speak on a resolution sponsored by Senator Nia Gill (D-Montclair) to grant subpoena powers to a special committee to review the Senate’s response State to investigate for the COVID -19 pandemic in veterans’ nursing homes.

The motion was submitted by the Senate before Pennacchio was recognized as a speaker.

“I am outraged and disappointed that we have again been prevented from even discussing this effort to review the policies and factors that may have contributed to the death toll in long-term facilities,” he said Pennacchio. “Like the voices of family members demanding answers, my voice and the voices of my Senate peers were silenced today.

Pennacchio said the public “has the right to know what happened in the veterans’ homes and nursing homes.”

“What is this government hiding and why is it being protected?” he said.

The following are Pennacchio’s undelivered comments:

“Thank you, Mr. President of the Senate. I rise in support of this motion and I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same. In all my years as a legislator, I have never been more proud to support a bipartisan bill than I am today with this one. I thank Senator Gill for her leadership on this important matter.

At the onset of the Covid pandemic, questions immediately arose about government health policies and how to deal with Covid, particularly in relation to nursing homes. To be fair, this was a pandemic the likes of which we had not seen since 1918. However, to be fair to the 10,000 dead souls dying in nursing homes, common sense and accepted historical medical practices have been neglected and believe it or not – avoided.

Two years ago, in May 2020, then-Senate President Sweeney announced his willingness to establish an oversight committee with subpoena powers. At that time, fewer than 5,000 of our frail and old people had died in nursing homes. Two years later and 10,000 dead, we’re still waiting! The notoriously slow court system has outpaced this legislature in trying to find the truth through civil lawsuits.

Last December, the government acknowledged this with a $50 million settlement with the families of victims at the Paramus Veterans Nursing Home. The veterans’ nursing homes are of particular interest because they are fully controlled by the state. The same state that encouraged nursing homes to turn to them for help implementing their Covid healthcare guidelines. Apparently, the state never gave itself the memo.

In the past, and I’m sure in the future, litigation will focus on how crucial the impact of government policies has been on the deaths of 10,000 frail and elderly people locked in these nursing homes. There are silent screams crying out for answers.

  • Why did care homes have to take in Covid patients, a communicable disease with little chance of isolation in a care facility?
  • Why were nursing homes even banned from testing if incoming residents were infected?
  • What professional and medical thoughts from the health commissioner and state epidemiologist went into the March 2020 edict?
  • The New York and New Jersey memoranda were almost identical, with New York’s having been issued a week earlier. Was New Jersey playing after the leader?
  • Why didn’t New Jersey make more extensive use of the USS Comfort and the Javits Center? Did we ask your employees to use their PPE?
  • Why has there been a concerted effort to avoid answering questions, responding to OPRA requests, and addressing transparency on this important issue?

It’s a shame that two years after the bodies began to pile up, this Senate didn’t have the courage to look at our public health policies and determine what we were doing well and, more importantly, what we could have done better can do. This body had an oversight committee with me to investigate Bridgegate – Bridgegate where no one died. Just stop for a second and listen. Listen to these 10,000 silent screams. “

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