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Former Senate President Steve Sweeney. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Senate to launch investigation into state’s handling of COVID crisis

By Nikita Biryukov, May 22 2020 1:53 pm

The State Senate will create a special committee to investigate the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, Senate President Steve Sweeney announced Friday.

“This is the biggest public health crisis in more than a century with consequences on the lives and livelihoods of so many sectors of society,” Sweeney said. “It has created crises for a range of communities and exposed social and governmental failures that need to be addressed. This panel will work to rectify immediate problems and to make systemic reforms to prevent them from happening again. This is about getting answers and making improvements, not about casting blame.”

The bipartisan committee, whose membership has not yet been announced, will investigate the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state’s long-term care centers and prison, the virus’s impact on minority communities and the functionality of the state’s unemployment system, among other things.

The Senate will vote on the committee’s enabling legislation in the coming weeks.

The announcement follows calls from Republican lawmakers for an investigation into Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of the crisis.

“It’s clear that mistakes were made and important lessons can be learned to improve the State’s response as we move forward,” Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said. “It’s our sincere hope that this bipartisan review will save lives and help New Jersey to recover with strength and resiliency.”

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