The U.S. Department of Justice has opened up a civil rights probe into New Jersey’s state-run veterans homes, saying the number of coronavirus deaths there have been understated by state officials who operate the facilities, Politico reported on Wednesday.
A letter sent to Democrat New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, which was released by the Justice Department, stated that there is “cause for concern that the quality of medical care at these nursing homes has been deficient,” adding that “recent reports suggest that the number of COVID-19 deaths at some nursing homes, including New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park and New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus … two long-term care facilities operated by the state, have been understated.”
The Justice Department announced its original investigation of New Jersey’s handling of the matter in August, and earlier this month the New Jersey governor announced a shake-up of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which oversees the Menlo Park and Paramus homes.
Murphy’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that “The fact that this request from the Department of Justice was announced a week before Election Day speaks volumes about the nature of the review. From the beginning of the pandemic, the State of New Jersey has relied on CDC guidance from the federal government to protect the residents of our veterans homes. We do not comment on the substance of investigative inquiries and will respond through the appropriate channels in due course.”
The federal probe also looked into outbreaks of other states that have Democrat governors, such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
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