New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Chaos at the State Department of Health

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Pennacchio: Fired Deputy Commissioner Should be Called as Witness for Special Senate Committee

As reported in the New Jersey Globe, the state’s top health official in charge of emergency preparedness has been fired, and Senator Joe Pennacchio said it paints a disturbing portrait of the Murphy Administration’s COVID performance.

Fired high-level health department official should be one of the first witnesses for the Senate’s pandemic response investigation, Senator Pennacchio said. (SenateNJ.com)

“With the revelation that the fired assistant commissioner of health claims he was being ‘scapegoated,’ and recent statements by the commissioner herself that she and the Governor had yet to have a ‘one on one meeting,’ a picture begins to emerge,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “A picture of a chaotic department that was in over their heads. A picture that saw the Administration safely fall back on and hide behind the skirts of the CDC, FDA, and WHO for guidance. A picture that had no forethought in COVID policy but rather played follow the leader with New York. An administration that became comfortable managing this mess instead of looking for ways to lead us out. The souls of 6,000 dead in our nursing homes and their families deserve answers now.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Revised Figures Show One In 10 Nursing Home Residents in New Jersey Died from COVID-19

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Senator Pennaccchio: These Numbers are Horrifying

While the state slowly emerges from the grasp of the coronavirus, death tolls, especially in long-term care facilities, continue to rise.

Senator Pennacchio said a report by Forbes that one in 10 New Jersey nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 supports the need for an immediate investigation into the state’s pandemic response. (Pixabay)

“Nursing home residents are paying dearly for actions taken by the Administration,” said Senator Joe Pennacchio. “New data indicates that since the outbreak, one in 10 residents of senior care facilities have died from COVID-19. The real number may actually be higher, much higher because statistics don’t include long-term patients who died after being transferred to hospitals. Also not included in the numbers are staff members who perished while taking care of residents in these facilities. The health department’s recording practices obscure the loss of life among our seniors, but cannot erase the reality.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: Subpoenas Necessary for Productive Investigation into State’s COVID Response

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Says Hearing Should be Held in Trenton

Senator Joe Pennacchio once again commended news that the Senate will establish a special committee to investigate the state’s COVID-19 response and asserted that the panel must be empowered to subpoena witnesses.

Senator Pennacchio said a thorough Senate investigation of the state’s COVID response requires the right to subpoena witnesses and documents, and should be held at the State House complex in Trenton. (SenateNJ.com)

“According to a report from NJ Advance Media, the Administration is anything but forthcoming with information and details, and without subpoena powers it will be very difficult for the investigation to accomplish its mission,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “A thorough examination of the life-changing edicts, executive orders and mandates that have been unleashed on New Jersey residents warrants a comprehensive, real-time, evaluation. That will not be possible if the committee cannot require testimony and documents.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senate Accepts Pennacchio Call for Special Committee to Investigate NJ’s Response to COVID-19 Crisis

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State Senator Joe Pennacchio today thanked Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. for allowing the formation of a special committee to investigate the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Senator Pennacchio, who has been calling for a Senate committee to investigate the state’s pandemic response, thanked Senate President Sweeney and Senate Republican Leader Kean for their leadership after they announced the formation of a special panel. (SenateNJ.com)

Pennacchio released the following statement:

“I echoed the same concerns and desires articulated by the Senate President and Republican Leader Kean in today’s announcement. The focus of our committee must be a factual review of what has happened to date, what should not have happened, and how we can make it better going into the future.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: Early On, CDC Warned NJ and NY Not to Introduce COVID Patients into Nursing Homes

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12,000 Long-Term Care Patients Died in Two States

Senator Joe Pennacchio, appalled and frustrated by the loss of life in New Jersey and New York, had a message for Governors Murphy and Cuomo.

Senator Pennacchio said it was obvious early on that senior facilities were at high-risk concerns for COVID-19 outbreaks, yet the Murphy Administration ignored the warning signs and vulnerable senior citizens lost their lives. (Pixabay)

“You own this, governors. The death and illness, the lack of protective equipment, ineffective leadership and non-existent state intervention – it all rests at your feet,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “If you are going to point fingers, point at yourselves first.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

State Went Out of Its Way to Protect Inspectors While Denying Nursing Home Patients, Staff

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Pennacchio: Misguided Health Policy Allowed 6,000 to Die

A published report stating that as the coronavirus gained a foothold, the health commissioner was reluctant to send state inspectors into nursing homes because they didn’t have sufficiently protective masks prompted outrage from Senator Joe Pennacchio.

The Administration left the residents and staff of nursing homes to fend for themselves as the coronavirus spread through facilities, Senator Pennacchio said, and the results were tragic. (Flickr)

“There are no words to explain it, no way to justify it,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The department essentially washed its hands of the problem, protecting its own experts at the expense of nursing home residents and workers who were left to their own devises to contend with the deadly outbreak. The laissez faire approach turned some facilities into ‘death homes’ for fragile senior citizens.”

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Senator Declan O'Scanlon
Senator Joe Pennacchio
Senator Kristin Corrado
Senator Steve Oroho

Republican Senators to Sweeney: Senate Can’t Allow Administration to Cover Up Its Nursing Home Failures

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Senator Joe Pennacchio, Senator Steven Oroho, Senator Declan O’Scanlon, and Senator Kristin Corrado sent a letter (click here for PDF) to Senate President Steve Sweeney calling for a Senate Select Committee with subpoena power to be convened to investigate the massive loss of life in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities.

Senators Pennacchio, Oroho, O’Scanlon, and Corrado called on Senate President Steve Sweeney to convene a Senate Select Committee with subpoena power to investigate the massive loss of life in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities. (CC0 Public Domain)

The full text of the letter is below:

May 20, 2020

Dear Senate President Sweeney,

Last week, our Senate Republican caucus wrote to you calling for the formation of a Senate Select Committee to investigate the Murphy administration’s response to COVID-19, including the orders that all but guaranteed the loss of life in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: State’s Revision of Nursing Home Deaths an Insult to Those Who Lost Their Lives and Their Families

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Renews Call for Senate Select Committee Investigation into Executive Branch’s Handling of Pandemic

What can the state do when the number of nursing home patients dying from COVID-19 is embarrassingly high? The answer for New Jersey, where more than half the virus deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, was to change the numbers.

Senator Pennacchio is again calling for a Senate Select Committee to investigate the Executive Branch’s handling of the pandemic after a report the Administration has altered the total of COVID-related nursing home deaths. (SenateNJ.com)

“It is a disturbing and ineffective attempt to cover up the extent of an ongoing tragedy that has wreaked havoc in nursing homes,” said Senator Joe Pennacchio after a published report that the state had altered its accounting of virus deaths in senior facilities.

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Senator Declan O'Scanlon
Senator Joe Pennacchio
Senator Kristin Corrado
Senator Steve Oroho

Republican Senators to Sweeney: Senate Must Act to Prevent Greater Loss of Life at NJ’s Long-Term Care Facilities

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Say Evidence Mounting that Thousands of Deaths in Nursing & Veterans Homes Were Preventable

Senator Steven Oroho, Senator Joe Pennacchio, Senator Declan O’Scanlon, and Senator Kristin Corrado said the evidence is mounting that thousands of deaths in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities were preventable and called on Senate President Steve Sweeney to initiate legislative hearings to prevent a repeat of the tragedy should New Jersey be hit by a second wave of COVID-19.

Four Republican senators called on Senate President Sweeney to initiate legislative hearings into the thousands of deaths at New Jersey’s long-term care facilities to prevent a repeat of the tragedy should a second wave of COVID-19 occur. (SenateNJ.com)

“The state and nation were shocked when news reports broke of dozens of deaths at Andover Subacute, a long-term care facility in Sussex County,” said Oroho (R-24). “It’s increasingly apparent that the tragedy that occurred in Andover and at nursing and veterans homes across New Jersey didn’t need to happen. Staff at many facilities warned that they were ill prepared for an outbreak, lacking the personal protective equipment, tests, and ability to segregate sick residents necessary to keep their vulnerable populations safe. By not taking the proper precautions, the administration failed these at-risk residents. We want to work cooperatively with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to understand what went wrong with the administration’s response to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Dismayed by Lack of Communication Between Governor, Health Commissioner as Coronavirus Takes Toll

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 ‘After two months of isolation, it is unbelievable the Governor and health commissioner have yet to have a one-on-one talk.’

Senator Joe Pennacchio has a message for Governor Phil Murphy: Please call health commissioner Judith Persichilli.

Senator Pennacchio said he is dismayed to read that while the coronavirus has claimed more than 10,000 New Jersey lives, with more than half of them occurring in nursing homes, the Governor has not spoken one-on-one with the health commissioner. (SenateNJ.com)

According to a published report, the commissioner told several health department officials, “I never have the Governor’s attention,” and “I have never had a one-on-one with him.”

“It’s time for that to change. Pick up the phone, Governor, and get on the same page,” said Pennacchio (R-26).

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