Murphy (Almost) Equally Dismissive of Pennacchio and Anonymous Critics

With many COVID-19 deaths occurring in nursing homes, it’s logical to ask if state officials could have done more to slow the trend.

Some Republicans and other critics of the governor have done more than merely ask. With over-the-top rhetoric, some have suggested that the state “sent” patients to long-term care facilities with no regard and indifference to what happened next.

When this subject was raised anew at today’s daily briefing, Phil Murphy quickly called those accusations “inaccurate.”  The governor and Judy Persichilli, the state health commissioner, gave a rundown of all the regulations the state put in place regarding nursing homes.

Some of this was similar to what Persichilli said about 10 days ago.

Explaining that the policy was built on searching for available beds during the height of the pandemic, Murphy and the commissioner said there were rules about keeping COVID-19 patients separate from the
rest of the population. Additionally, there were requirements for personal protection equipment and keeping staff attending to COVID-19 patients away from other residents and staff.

The governor said nursing homes violating those regulations should “be held accountable.” This was similar to what he said awhile back about their being some “bad apples” in the long-term care business.

While few would question that, it’s not as if the state has no say in the matter; it does license nursing homes.

One of the loudest critics of COVID-19 patients in long-term care has been Republican state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (pictured), who also is co-chair of the Trump campaign in New Jersey. The senator’s views not too long ago got him an interview on FOX News.

Today, Murphy dismissed his concerns with a bit of a joke. The governor said he just sent Pennacchio birthday wishes and a message that said they agreed on love of country, love of state, the fact he
deserves a happy birthday and nothing much else.

A related matter popping up today were published reports about an anonymous letter by state health department employees criticizing the administration’s pandemic response and calling for Persichilli to be fired.

This followed last week’s dismissal of an assistant health commissioner who is now reportedly under investigation for “leaks.”

The governor seems to have little patience for this type of stuff. He again deflected questions about the fired Chris Neuwirth because it involved personnel and said that Commissioner Persichilli is going no
where.

As for the letter, Murphy said, “We don’t spend anytime in response to anything anonymous.”

He disputed the notion the workers had to be anonymous to keep their jobs, saying that employees come to his office and disagree with him frequently.

“They still have their jobs,” Murphy said.

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