By Chanteé Lans

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (CBS) — A big challenge in the coronavirus crisis is keeping nursing home and care facility residents safe and healthy. In New Jersey, there are already several dozen positive cases linked to residents in these care settings and family members fear their loved ones have been exposed.

There are now 55 coronavirus cases at long-term care facilities in New Jersey, affecting some of the most vulnerable people in the state, including at the Laurel Brook Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. Gov. Phil Murphy announced he’s hoping to allocate $140 million to health care providers to expand their capacity to fight COVID-19.

“To our seniors who were on that call or who are watching, we have your backs and we know this is a particularly provoking time for you all,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

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In Mount Laurel, all Laurel Brook employees, including health care workers, are now being checked for coronavirus symptoms as they enter and leave work. This comes after three COVID-19 deaths were reported from the nursing home facility.

“It’s just kind of frustrating,” said Victoria Mathis.

Mathis pulled her 60-year-old mother out of the nursing home after staying there for five weeks.

Her mother, who is in isolation, developed a cough while in the nursing home. She asked to be tested several times and says that it never happened.

“It’s frustrating to hear from the news that there are 19 positive cases and three deaths,” Mathis’ mother said. “That’s what devastated me.”

In Mercer County, loved ones of elderly residents at Hamilton Continuing Care Center in Hamilton are on edge.

“My mother and I were alerted yesterday evening from a staff member that there was, unfortunately, a case in the nursing home,” Lauren Auletto said.


Auletto’s 83-year-old grandmother has dementia.

“If you’re in a nursing home working with seniors, I think that’s as mandatory as first responders need to be tested,” Auletto said.

Hamilton Continuing Care Center said in a statement, “The New Jersey Department of Health has been notified of potential exposure, and the local health officer from Hamilton Township is in touch with the facility almost daily. Disinfection, Personal Protection Equipment, and all recommended protocols and in-service training are ongoing.”

There are now over 8,800 coronavirus cases in New Jersey, including 108 deaths.