Taken from NorthJersey.com
By Scott Fallon
July 30, 2020
COVID-19 killed tens of thousands in the Northeast, caused massive unemployment and wrecked the economy. In an ongoing series of stories, the USA TODAY Network Atlantic Group examines what the government got wrong in its response to the virus, what policies eventually worked — and why we remain vulnerable if the coronavirus strikes harder in the fall.
The COVID-19 pandemic played out like a horror movie at New Jersey nursing homes through the spring as a silent killer moved about undeterred, claiming victim after victim and providing scenes that had once been unimaginable:
Seventeen bodies piled in a small morgue at a Sussex County nursing home.
Workers in hazmat suits evacuating 94 elderly men and women from a Woodbridge home.
Men who had served their country dying by the dozens week after week at state-run veterans homes in Paramus and Menlo Park.
The scale was equally staggering, as the outbreak killed more than 6,700 nursing home residents — almost half of New Jersey’s total COVID-19 death toll — and 119 of their caretakers.
Now state officials, nurses unions and families are hoping nursing home operators have made enough changes to guard residents against a probable second wave of COVID-19 cases this fall.
Likewise, nursing home operators hope Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration will be able to adjust some of its most-criticized policies — such as forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19 residents returning from the hospital. They also want the state to distribute face masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment more evenly among hospitals and nursing homes.