Nearly three years after Covid first showed up in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that an independent review of the state’s response to the pandemic will soon begin. This is a promise Murphy has been making since the beginning of the pandemic.
The review, which is expected to be done by the end of 2023, will look at how ready the state was at first for a public health crisis, how it dealt with the pandemic when it happened, and what the state can do to be ready for future crises.
In a statement announcing the review, Murphy said, “During the pandemic, it was my job as governor to make every decision based on the available data, facts, and science to protect the health and safety of all 9.3 million residents, no matter what the politics were.”
“As governor, it’s also my job to do a full and thorough review of how the state prepared for and responded to the pandemic.” This way, we can take steps to better prepare future governments for a public health crisis.
Murphy’s announcement said that the review will focus in part on the state’s actions “with respect to vulnerable residents, including members of congregate care settings.” This is an area of the state’s response to the pandemic where the Murphy administration has been criticized heavily.
The review will be run by two outside firms, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads and the Boston Consulting Group. The review will be led by Paul Zoubek, who used to be Assistant Attorney General.
Murphy said that he thinks Zoubek will do a great job in the job because he worked for Republican governors Christine Todd Whitman and Donald DiFrancesco.
“As a well-respected, non-political, and experienced state and federal prosecutor, Paul Zoubek is exactly the right person to lead this review.
He has the experience in emergency management and government investigations that makes him perfect for this task,” the governor said.
Murphy first suggested an independent review in April 2020, when the pandemic was still in its first wave of violence.
In the years that followed, however, Murphy never gave a clear timeline for this review, in part because more and more Covid kept moving into the state.