A Murphy administration directive requiring nursing homes to admit Covid-positive patients continues to be an issue in the 2021 race for governor, as Republican rival Doug Steinhardt slammed him for visiting an Old Bridge long-term care facility this morning to launch the state’s vaccination efforts there.
The launch begins one week late after the administration missed a deadline to submit information to the federal government that would have permitted some pharmacy chains to begin nursing home vaccinations last week.
“Phil Murphy should be ashamed to show his face at the Roosevelt Care Center after his decision to send COVID positive patients into New Jersey nursing homes like this one led to the deaths of over 7,100 veterans and seniors,” Steinhardt said. “His subsequent refusal to hold his Health Commissioner accountable for missing a federal COVID vaccine deadline and losing $94 million in COVID test kit grants further exposes his bad judgment and weak leadership.”
Steinhardt had called for the resignation of Commissioner of Health Judy Persichilli over the missed deadline, leading Murphy to deride his possible GOP opponent.
“The last thing we need when people who don’t know what they’re talking about from the cheap seats,” Murphy said at a briefing last week.
Murphy was on-hand Monday morning when the first vaccines were administered at the Roosevelt Care Center. The photo-op included a 103-year-old woman, Mildred Clements, who was brought outside and into a tent where the event took place, despite 40-degree temperatures.
“It’s an honor to meet you,” Clements told the governor.
He was accompanied by Persichilli and Kat Kingston, the CVS Health regional director, and a small pool of reporters.
The Roosevelt Care Center was among a group of New Jersey-based long-term care facilities included in a U.S. Justice Department request for data after the state reported thousands of nursing home deaths this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Steinhardt said the credit for the vaccine should go to outgoing President Donald Trump and scientists, not the Governor of New Jersey.
“While we are grateful for the Trump Administration and the Life Science community’s hard work getting us a vaccine quickly, Phil Murphy has nothing to celebrate and everything to atone for,” Steinhardt said.
Murphy, in remarks that followed the first vaccines, said that “long-term care facilities across New Jersey and the entire nation have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
““Over the past nine months, we have paid an incredible cost, but today is another positive step forward in our fight against this virus. New Jersey’s comprehensive and inclusive vaccination plan prioritizes individuals living in high-risk, congregate settings, such as nursing homes, Veterans Homes, and assisted living residences,” he said.
This story was updated at 10:28 PM to include comment from Murphy and again at 12:20.