LIVINGSTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Federal authorities are now trying to collect evidence to see if New York and New Jersey contributed to the high number of deaths in public long-term care facilities by allowing COVID-19 patients to be sent there for treatment.

One woman says private facilities should be looked at, too.

There’s not a day that goes by that Tara Clevens does not think about her mother, Sandria Leifer, who died from COVID-19 five months ago at 76 years old.

“She was my best friend. I lost my best friend,” Clevens said.

Clevens says her mom was living at Atrium Post Acute Care in Livingston, a private long-term care facility that she believes was taking in COVID-19 patients from St. Barnabas Hospital.

She tells CBS2 a nurse inside the building confirmed that to her.

“What do you recall her saying to you?” CBS2’s Cory James asked.

“‘Tara, I’m privately telling you that we’ve accepted COVID-19 patients into the facility’ … and she died five days later,” Clevens said.


The Department of Justice is now looking into similar actions at public facilities, claiming governors in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan issued orders that may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy‘s office released a statement saying the request for data from the DOJ appears to be political.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed his frustration Thursday.

“There are about 14 states in the country that followed the same CDC guidance. The letter only went to four Democratic states. This is all politics,” he said.

RELATED STORY: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Criticizes Justice Department For Requesting COVID-19 Data From Public Nursing Homes

But for Clevens, it’s about lives lost, and she believes non-state-run facilities should be reviewed as well.

“The amount of money that they made … they’re laughing all the way to the bank,” she said.

Officials at Atrium, which is managed by Spring Hills Senior Communities, denied CBS2’s request for an on-camera interview.

A spokesperson said the health and well-being of residents and staff is a top priority.

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