April 16, 2020 | 1: 07am | Updated April 16, 2020 | 9: 36am
Police reportedly discovered 17 corpses stuffed inside a small morgue at one of New Jersey’s largest nursing homes.
Officers at the Andover Township Police Department found the bodies at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center after pursuing an anonymous tip about the improper storage of corpses during the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reported.
The bodies were placed in a morgue built for just four as the nursing home grappled with mounting deaths.
“They were just overwhelmed by the number of people who were expiring,” Eric Danielson, the police chief in Andover, told the paper, after finding the bodies on Easter Sunday and the following Monday.
The 17 bodies were among 68 recent deaths linked to the long-term care center, with 26 of those deaths having tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Times.
Andover Subacute accommodates 700 beds. Of the patients who remain in the facility’s two buildings, 76 have tested positive for the virus in addition to another 41 staff members, the Times reported.
Neither the nursing home nor Danielson responded to requests for comment.
Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, the New Jersey long-term care ombudsman, told the New Jersey Herald that she was concerned about staffing levels and a lack of personal protective equipment at nursing homes across the state.
Her office has specifically launched three cases for investigations into Andover Subacute between March 13 and April 13.
“Now, with so many facilities affected, families are calling us desperately seeking information and answers about why their loved ones are not being tested, questioning whether they are receiving the proper treatment or if they are not COVID-19-positive, whether they are being adequately protected,” Facciarossa Brewer said told the Herald in a statement.
“The lack of testing and the scarcity of personal protection equipment appears to be a huge issue even at this late date.”