Here is a glimpse inside the workings of government in New Jersey from an story that Murphy was questioned about soon after it appeared:

Murphy’s non-response is at the bottom:

According to the complaint, Neuwirth received a phone call on April 24 from State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan, who he claimed had told him that the governor’s chief of staff “needs a favor.”

The request was to have the assistant commissioner himself, or a member of his staff, go to the home of unnamed relatives of Helmy in Bergen County and collect specimens for COVID-19 testing that weekend, through the Department of Heath’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratories.

“Fully understanding that the request for the ‘favor’ was coming from top-level people within the governor’s inner circle,” the complaint said Neuwirth told Callahan that he would look into the matter.

The following day, the complaint said Callahan again called and “angrily demanded” to find out why no one had yet contacted Helmy’s family members. Neuwirth responded that he had no staff available.

“So then, this is something you are going to do?” he said the State Police superintendent asked.

“Yea, I don’t have a choice,” Neuwirth said he responded, according to the lawsuit.

But he never went through with the testing.

On April 26, after driving from his home in Flemington to the Public Health and Environmental Laboratories in West Trenton to obtain specimen collection tubes and preparing to make the trip up to Bergen County, Neuwirth said he reached out to the Health Department’s Office of Legal and Regulatory Compliance.

He complained that he had been instructed to collect private COVID-19 tests on family members of a Governor’s Office employee as “a favor,” the complaint stated, and questioned the propriety of the request.

He said he was told to go home.

After dropping off his state vehicle, he said he called Persichilli to discuss the situation as well. He claimed the commissioner also told him to go home and not perform the tests.

At the time, New Jersey was reporting 102,196 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 5,617 deaths.


“I was ostracized. I was out of the inner circle,” he said.

According to the complaint, senior Health Department staff removed scheduled meetings from his calendar, refused to share information with him, and would not respond to his emails. He said he was no longer being consulted on matters related to his responsibilities as assistant commissioner.

Then on May 20, he was called into the front office after NJ Advance Media published a story that day based on internal department records and statements by officials, as well as interviews with families, workers and others, that found that New Jersey failed to react fast enough or take forceful, aggressive actions to slow the deadly rampage in nursing homes. The story included internal analytical material obtained by reporters that revealed a severe shortage in nursing homes of personal protective equipment known as PPE, such as masks and gowns, at a time the department was prioritizing hospitals.

Neuwirth was asked whether he had been leaking confidential information to the media. He said he denied it.

Eight days later, he was terminated. When asked why, he was informed it was a “no-cause termination” and that his services were no longer needed.


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