TRENTON – In a two-track protest of how the Legislature has handled COVID-related issues, a Republican state senator participated in a committee meeting Thursday from the parking lot of the state-run veterans home in Paramus.

Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris, opposes the requirement imposed by Democrats who run the Legislature that people show proof of being vaccinated or a recent negative COVID test in order to access the statehouse complex.

So, rather than attend the Senate Economic Growth Committee meeting in person, Pennacchio participated remotely. And rather than do it from home or an office, he traveled to the New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus to reiterate his call for oversight hearings into nursing home deaths.

“As legislators are locked out and prevented from doing the people’s business, I chose to point out the insanity of the administration’s COVID policy which was so disastrous to so many, especially our frail and elderly,” Pennacchio said.

The state Department of Health reports that 8,718 residents and staff in long-term care facilities have died due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. That includes 81 residents of the veterans home in Paramus, 64 at the one in Menlo Park and 13 at the one in Vineland.

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“The Senate has failed to convene committee oversight hearings and failed to issue subpoenas to find out why the COVID virus was forced into nursing homes, why testing was denied, and why 10,000 frail and elderly residents lost their lives,” Pennacchio said.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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