DiMaio says restitution for veterans Covid deaths doesn’t equal resolution

DiMaio says restitution for veterans Covid deaths doesn’t equal resolution

John DiMaio

TRENTON, N.J. – Assembly Republican Leader-Elect John DiMaio says the state’s settlement with 119 families of veterans who died of Covid-19 in state-run homes is a first step, not a substitution for answers and accountability.

“It is rather convenient that this news breaks just as the governor jets off to Costa Rica on vacation, but we want the veterans’ families to know that we won’t let the Murphy administration off the hook for simply settling out of court,” DiMaio (R-Warren) said. “There are 205 American heroes who died in the state-run veterans homes. All of their loved ones deserve justice.”

According to recent reports, the Murphy administration has agreed to pay nearly $53 million to families of veterans who died as a result of the state’s negligence during the Covid pandemic. The settlement covers 119 residents, most of whom died during early outbreaks at the Menlo Park and Paramus Veterans Memorial Homes.

“The true colossal failure during the pandemic has been the administration’s directives that killed hundreds in our veterans homes. From the lack of infection control to threatening employees who wore masks, it’s time the public finds out the truth from our taxpayer-funded health officials through legislative hearings,” DiMaio said. “While the current investigations are needed and absolutely warranted, they provide little comfort to those of us who want to make sure our veterans are now being protected and provided the best care following the senseless tragedies.”

Both the Menlo Park and Paramus facilities are the focus of an ongoing federal investigation, while the state attorney general takes a broader look at how New Jersey’s long-term care facilities responded to the pandemic.

More than 17,600 veterans died at similar facilities across the nation. New Jersey’s long-term care resident and staff deaths top 8,700. The three state-run veterans homes include Menlo Park, which recorded 103 resident deaths, Paramus with 89, and Vineland with 13.