PARAMUS, N.J. (PIX11) — World War II veteran Thomas Mastropietro died from COVID-19 in April 2020, less than a month after celebrating his 91st birthday at a state-run veterans home where he lived in Paramus, NJ.
“They lied, ya know. They denied it was COVID. And it was there, and people were dying from it,” said his son Stephen Mastropietro.
Stephen tells PIX11 News he is furious over a newly released justice department report that condemns the insufficient safety protocols in place here and at another state-run facility.
As a result, dozens of veterans died of COVID.
Even more troubling, the federal investigation reveals three years later the situation still has not improved.
The report reads in part, “The systemic deficiencies exposed by the initial COVID outbreak have continued. Notably, the veterans home’s ongoing inability to implement basic infection control protocols continues to place residents at risk of COVID and other serious infections.”
“It’s just unbelievable that they can continue to do this,” said Mastropietro.
In a statement, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy calls the federal report, “deeply disturbing.” He adds his administration has attempted to improve conditions by, “securing private management and assistance for these two homes. However, it is clear that we have significantly more work to do, and we are open to exploring all options to deliver for our veterans the high level of care they deserve.”
Congressman Josh Gottheimer wants another objective review.
“Well, I think these are our heroes there, and I think we should have outside people, experts, come in’ said Gottheimer. “They should come in and give us a report and tell us if they think the problems can be addressed immediately, or if we have to take other action,” Gottheimer added.
However, Stephen Mastropietro is not convinced.
“The home should be closed. They do not know how to treat people. They do not know how to run it properly or safely,” Mastropietro said.