New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: ‘Now We’re Talking About a Second Wave. I’d Really Be Interested to Find Out What Happened with the First Wave.’

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Senator’s Words Challenged Senate Veterans Committee to Unearth to Truth

Senator Joe Pennacchio before voting on a Senate Joint Resolution (SJR-80) calling on Congress to release funds to offset COVID-19 related losses to New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs-run veteran memorial homes.

Senator Pennacchio renewed his call for a Senate Select Committee with subpoena powers to investigate the COVID tragedy within the walls of veterans and nursing homes. (Pixabay)

“One has to ask why we’re asking for money from the federal government when our veterans’ homes are all state run. Why are we not using the more than $2 billion of CARES funds the state received? Why didn’t we utilize the USS Comfort, the Javits Center, field hospitals, or at least their staffs and the personal protective equipment when they were here? Why did we send them away?

“The state, by its own admissions, says 7,100 dead seniors in long-term nursing facilities. One out of every 10 long-term nursing facilities residents are dead.

“And we look at the Paramus and Menlo Park veterans’ homes, which is the impetus for the bill, and one out of every three residents of those nursing homes died.

“Take a look at Florida, you see that the population which is well over twice that of New Jersey and an older population, and yet they did it the right way. They have many less nursing home deaths than New Jersey has. Why?

“Think of this – If we were a country, New Jersey would have the highest per-capita COVID death rate in the world. We knew it was coming in. We knew it was going to effect nursing homes. We saw that in Washington state. We saw that in Europe as the bodies were falling.

“We saw that in prisons, it could potentially hurt the prisoners, so we opened up the prisons. Yet we forced the virus into nursing homes and veterans’ homes and we locked the door, and worse, we even prevented them from doing any testing.

“Before we do any of these pieces of legislation, respectfully, Chairman, we’ve been speaking in my caucus about getting a special Select Committee with subpoena powers.

“Let’s find out what happened. Let’s find out what we did wrong. Let’s expand on what we did right and let’s make sure it never happens again.

“As we’re now talking about the second wave, I’d really be interested just to find out what happened with the first wave.

“When Bridgegate came out, the fear was that somebody could have gotten hurt. Nobody did, and as you know we had a special select committee with subpoena powers, of which I voted for, a bipartisan effort. And yet we have dead souls, at least 7,100 and 200 alone in those Menlo Park and Paramus veterans’ homes screaming for answers.

“So, for those reasons, at this point I will be abstaining on this resolution.”

 CLICK HERE for a recording of the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee meeting. Senator Pennacchio’s statement begins at 35:15.

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