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State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Pennacchio: Nursing homes investigation needed after report suggests New York underestimated deaths

By Nikita Biryukov, January 29 2021 11:30 am

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) on Friday renewed calls for an investigation into the state’s handling of COVID-19 in its long-term care centers after a state investigation found New York may have underreported deaths in such facilities by up to 50%.

“The disturbing findings of the attorney general’s report suggest the possibility of an effort to conceal the harsh reality,” the senator said. “This is one more example of why the Legislature needs to investigate and find out what was going on in senior homes in our state.”

Republicans have long called for an investigation into deaths at the state’s nursing and veterans memorial homes, which were a magnet for mortality in the early months of the pandemic. As of Friday morning, there were 7,740 confirmed deaths among long-term care center residents and staff.

Another 155 have died from the virus in the state’s three veterans homes.

Their calls have met with little success. Though Senate President Steve Sweeney in May appeared to agree to hold hearings on the state’s response, there haven’t been any moves in that direction from Democratic leaders in the intervening months, despite Republican insistence.

“The Legislature must launch an oversight committee or we will never know what was really going on behind the locked doors of the nursing home death traps, and we’ll never know the full impact the virus had on these facilities,” Pennacchio said. “New York finally got some answers, and now it’s our turn.”

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