New Jersey's 1st Legislative District

Senator Michael Testa

Senator Michael Testa

Testa: Grand Jury Investigating Veterans Home Deaths Deserves Full Story

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Encourages Prosecutors to Present All Evidence, Including Role of Governor’s Office in Devising Policies to Punish Veterans Home Staff for Using PPE

Senator Michael Testa said he was glad to hear that the Attorney General’s Office has convened a grand jury to investigate more than 200 deaths of residents and staff in State-run veterans home due to COVID-19, and encouraged prosecutors to present all evidence including the role of the Governor’s Office in formulating and enforcing policies restricting the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by nurses and caregivers that led to mass outbreaks within the facilities.

Sen. Michael Testa encouraged State prosecutors to present all evidence to a grand jury investigating hundreds of veterans home deaths, including the role of the Governor’s Office in devising policies to punish veterans home staff for attempting to use PPE that could have saved lives. (SenateNJ.com)

“We know the Governor’s Office was directly involved in decisions to punish veterans home workers for attempting to wear PPE that could have saved lives,” said Testa (R-1). “Quite simply, there’s blood on the Murphy Administration’s hands. The grand jury deserves to hear the full story of the management failures within those veterans homes and at the highest levels of the Murphy Administration that led to more than 200 deaths of residents and staff.”

Nurses and staffers at the three State-run veterans homes have said they were ordered by management not to wear life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) as COVID-19 cases began to spread in the region. They were told it would scare the residents.

Emails published by The Record and NorthJersey.com indicate that the administration within the veterans homes was in communication with the Governor’s Office and received guidance that resulted in plans to discipline staffers for “mask insubordination,” although the full extent of the Governor’s Office involvement has been hidden in heavily redacted documents.

With veterans home staffers denied the ability to employ basic infection control procedures in March and April, the facilities were quickly overwhelmed by COVID-19 outbreaks and fatalities.

“There’s clearly something in those emails between the Governor’s Office and the veterans homes that the Murphy Administration doesn’t want the public to see,” added Testa. “The grand jury should have the opportunity to review those emails in full. Without all of the relevant information, it will be impossible for a grand jury to review the many layers of wrongdoing that led to hundreds of deaths for potential prosecution.”

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