Lisa Crowley, whose mother and stepfather live at the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home, said staff members had previously been told not to wear masks, to minimize fear among patients.
Almost all of her parents’ regular caregivers, she said, were home sick.
“Everyone we know isn’t here,” her mother, who is 82 and has Alzheimer’s, tells her each day, Ms. Crowley said.
All long-term care facilities in New Jersey have been closed to visitors for more than two weeks. The exception is final farewells to patients as the end of life nears.
The lockdown, the lack of information and the fear of the virus have made families feel helpless, said Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, who runs an organization that investigates claims of elder abuse and neglect in long-term care homes.
“We’re getting calls from them saying, ‘I feed my mom every day, and she won’t eat unless I’m there,’” Ms. Facciarossa Brewer said.
There are rays of hope.
Dr. Varga said the rate of hospitalizations had shown signs of slowing. During the week that began March 22, the number of patients at Hackensack Meridian hospitals went from 550 patients to 1,400. Last week, it climbed by only 400, to 1,800.
At Holy Name, Ashley Fitzpatrick, 32, was transferred from her regular nursing assignment, in the cardiac-catheterization unit, to assist with I.C.U. patients. She has two small children, and she is self-distancing when she is not at work.