At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park became the site of one of the deadliest outbreaks in the nation. While the facility initially underreported the death count, stating 62 died of Covid, it later acknowledged 39 additional resident deaths were due to Covid-19—making the total a staggering 101.
According to a Wall Street Journal investigation, Covid-19 positive residents were separated from dementia patients by a loosely hung piece of plastic. Moreover, employees at the facility were discouraged from using face masks in caring for patients, with one plan discussed to discipline employees over “mask insubordination.” Managers also delayed informing families of residents about the outbreak.
Now, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has agreed to pay $53 million to the families of 119 residents, most of whom died from Covid-19 at the state-run facilities at Menlo Park and the Paramus Veterans Memorial Homes. The payout settles claims that officials at these facilities acted with gross negligence in handling the outbreak, according to nursing home and infection control standards.