The state Veterans Home in Vineland has recorded its first patient death from COVID-19, according to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

While the other Veterans Homes in Paramus and the home in the Menlo Park section of Edison have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vineland home, which has the most residents of the three, has had the least number of positive cases.

The Vineland facility, with 276 residents, has six total positive cases among residents and two staffers.

The Paramus facility, with 214 residents, has had 189 positive cases among residents and 73 among staff members, and 68 residents have died. The Menlo Park facility has 192 total residents. There, 165 residents and 69 staff members have tested positive, and 53 residents have died.

No staff at Vineland or Menlo Park has died, and one staff member died at Paramus.

"Currently all efforts to combat COVID-19 remain in place at all three facilities, as we continue to focus on saving lives and keeping our residents healthy," spokesman Kryn Westhoven said.

The New Jersey Army and National Guard has increased the number of citizen soldiers and airmen assigned to the veterans homes, with 120 in Paramus and 79 in Menlo Park to help care for patients and deal with administrative tasks like arranging video chats between families and residents,

The Guard has assigned an additional 30 members to Vineland for the first time.

Testing for all residents is also being done at all three Veterans Homes, commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli said at Monday's daily briefing with Gov. Phil Murphy.

Mark Piterski stepped down on Tuesday as deputy commissioner.  He told the New Jersey Globe on Tuesday that he intends to file as an independent candidate to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer in the 5th Congressional District.

Retired New Jersey Army National Guard Col. Walter Nall, the current director of Veterans Services, will serve as the acting deputy commissioner for veterans affairs.

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