More than half of the coronavirus fatalities reported in New Jersey are linked to nursing homes and longterm care facilities, state officials said Tuesday.
More than 500 facilities have come under scrutiny after 4,151 fatalities of the state's 8,244 were reported at the homes, Gov. Phil Murphy said. (Click here for the list of nursing homes that reported coronavirus cases).
Of the state's 130,593 positive tests, 22,602 were from those facilities, Murphy said.
"We know the long-term care issues have been among our biggest challenges if not the biggest challenge,'' Gov. Phil Murphy said at a daily briefing. "This is an issue not unique to New Jersey. It is truly a national issue."
Those numbers were due to some "bad actors," the governor opined.
"This is the fight of our lives,'' Murphy said, noting there are 385 more hospitalizations and more than 300 deaths from coronavirus.
Nine percent of the staff surveyed at nursing homes tested positive for coronavirus, although most workers were asymptomatic of didn't show any obvious signs of COVID-19, State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.
State Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal is heading up a task force to investigate LTC facility cases, Murphy said, and New Jersey has created this new online hub for patients and their families to file complaints.
"We're not acknowledging any wrongdoing by any particular facility,'' Grewal said, noting the coronavirus is the equivalent of a 100-year flood.
But Grewal said he will investigate whether any LTC facility put profits above public health, urging people to file complaints to www.covid19.nj.gov/ltc
On the bright side, Murphy thanked former Sen. Bill Bradley for coordinating an effort to distribute 750,000 masks to medical personnel, citing his NBA Knick nickname "Dollar Bill" Bradley. Bradley also was the top all-time scorer in basketball at Princeton University.
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