Probably no U.S. state except New York has seen nursing facilities for the aged hit harder by the Covid-19 crisis than New Jersey. To date, over 7,000 Garden State nursing home residents have succumbed to the virus.
Back in the spring of 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the state legislature acted quickly to grant broad civil and criminal immunity to health care facilities treating Covid patients, including hospitals and nursing homes.
The rationale at the time was that health care providers acting in good faith and according to prevailing safety protocols should not face crushing financial liability for Covid deaths that may not be their fault. However, as this blog has reported before, many nursing homes around the country and in New Jersey already had a poor track record of protecting elderly patients. Understaffing and other corner-cutting measures by for-profit owners left patients at risk, and elder advocates say these subpar facilities should not be allowed to now escape responsibility for preventable deaths.