17 bodies discovered at NJ nursing home 'overwhelmed' by coronavirus outbreak: report

1010 WINS Newsroom
April 16, 2020 - 1:45 pm

    ANDOVER, N.J. (1010 WINS) – Police said they found more than a dozen bodies piled in a morgue at one of New Jersey's largest nursing homes, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

    LISTEN LIVE: 1010 WINS' 24/7 coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

    The morgue at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Sussex County was only designed to hold four bodies, according to a report in the New York Times.

    Police said they made the discovery after receiving a request for body bags and then an anonymous tip about bodies being stored in a shed; they said no bodies were found in the shed but 17 were discovered in the small morgue.

    “They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring,” Eric Danielson, the Andover police chief, told the Times.

    Coronavirus New Jersey nursing home
    Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    There have reportedly been 68 recent deaths at the nursing home, including residents and two nurses; 26 of those people had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    According to the Times, a total of 76 patients at the nursing home and 41 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

    Nursing homes across New Jersey and the Tri-State have been ravaged by the coronavirus. The virus has spread to nearly every nursing home in New Jersey.

    “The challenge we’re having with all of these nursing homes, is once it spreads, it’s like a wildfire,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer told the Times.

    Staffing at the facility was adequate, but an extraordinary number of deaths over the weekend overwhelmed the facility's resources, a co-owner of the home said in an email Thursday to the office of Gottheimer.

    “The back up and after hours holiday weekend issues, plus more than average deaths, contributed to the presence of more deceased than normal in the facility holding room,” co-owner Chaim Scheinbaum wrote in the email.

    Gottheimer said he was notified over the weekend that the facility was “desperate for body bags." He said he has received calls and emails from concerned relatives.

    “One of my concerns is that these facilities are not communicating in real time,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been hearing from families. That’s outrageous, it’s completely unacceptable that they have to call me for updates.”

    Gov. Phil Murphy said at a news briefing Thursday that he has asked the state attorney general to look into what happened in Andover, as well as at any other nursing homes that have had many deaths.

    The governor said he was “outraged that bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in makeshift morgue at the facility. New Jerseyans living in our long-term care facilities deserve to be cared for with respect, compassion and dignity.”

    The coronavirus has spread quickly through nursing homes around the country, leading to pressure on federal health officials to publicly track COVID-19 infections and deaths. In New Jersey, 471 residents of long-term care facilities had died through Wednesday, and 358 of the state’s 375 facilities have reported positive cases, according to state health officials.

    Since last month, the state has banned visitation, ordered universal masking and required that all facilities notify residents, family and staff of any outbreaks.

    More than 3,500 people have died from the coronavirus in New Jersey as of Thursday, with more than 75,000 cases reported statewide.

    Like 1010 WINS on Facebook and follow @1010WINS on Twitter to get breaking news, traffic, and weather for New York City.