New Jersey Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli hit Gov. Phil Murphy (D) over the decisions he made during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, later stating that he supports “vaccine choice” and that employers should only be able to mandate testing.
“His decisions killed veterans and seniors in our nursing homes: New Jersey leads the nation in nursing home deaths. As governor, I would never order nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients,” Ciattarelli said at the Broadway Diner in Bayonne this morning.
“Florida has twice the population in New Jersey, the second largest senior citizen population in the country, and yet one half the nursing home deaths of New Jersey. Why? Because Florida said no way, no how are COVID patients going into our nursing homes.”
Just under a year ago, the U.S. Department of Justice announced they were investigating COVID-19 executive orders related to nursing home deaths in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Only the probe in New Jersey remains open, according to multiple news stations including CNN.
Ciattarelli, a former councilman, assemblyman and freeholder, also took Murphy to task over “one out of three” small businesses closing during the pandemic, noting that mom and pop shops were closed for about a year while corporations like Costco and Walmart were able to reopen in some capacity within a few months.
“Phil Murphy’s policies are totally out of touch with what main street really is in New Jersey: small business is the back bone of our New Jersey,” he said.
Yesterday, Murphy announced that employees at nursing homes, hospitals, jails, and a number of other healthcare and congregate living facilities would either have to be fully vaccinated or undergo COVID testing once or twice a week starting September 7th.
When one attendee, Ramon Hernandez, asked Ciattarelli where he stood on vaccine mandates, he said he didn’t support them although he is fully vaccinated and encourages others to do the same since he believes in “vaccine choice.”
“I’m vaccinated, I would suggest that people get vaccinated but I have great respect for vaccine choice. I think it’s a personal decision and I don’t pass judgement on those that do and those that don’t. The courts have determined that employers can make it a condition of employment, vaccination,” he explained.
“I would prefer if employers said ‘we want our employers to get vaccinated, but if you don’t you’ll be subject to testing every couple days if not once a week’ … I think that’s a reasonable approach.”
Locally, while Hoboken announced a municipal vaccine/testing mandate on Friday, it doesn’t appear that many other municipalities will be quick to follow suit, as only HCV reported.
During a brief media scrum outside the diner, Ciattarelli added that he didn’t support bringing back a statewide mask mandate now despite recent recommendations from the CDC that advises mask wearing in areas that have “substantial” COVID spread.
The Republican challengers appearance in Hudson County came less than 24 hours after it was revealed that former state Sen. Diane Allen will be his pick for lieutenant governor.
They will square off with Murphy and Lt. Gov. Shiela Oliver on November 2nd.