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Police in New Jersey say they found 17 bodies piled up in a tiny morgue inside a nursing home after receiving an anonymous tip that a corpse was being kept in a shed outside the facility.
The grim discovery was made Monday at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II in Sussex County, according to the New York Times.
Like other nursing homes in the state, the complex has been ravaged by the coronavirus, as 26 of the 68 people who have recently died there in its two buildings reportedly tested positive for the sickness.
“They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring,” Andover Police Chief Eric Danielson told the newspaper.
Police in New Jersey found 17 bodies inside the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II this week.
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When his department showed up to the property on Monday, they did not find a body in a shed like the tip claimed, but did find 17 of them in a morgue that has a normal capacity of four.
It was not immediately clear how many of those 17 deaths were caused by the coronavirus. Of those who remain at the facilities, 76 patients and 41 staff members are reported to be battling COVID-19.
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“The challenge we’re having with all of these nursing homes, is once it spreads, it’s like a wildfire,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., told the New York Times. “It’s very hard to stop it.”
Danielson says the nursing home has informed local health officials that sick residents are being kept on separate wings and floors. But the situation has caused panic among families and staff.
“To all the people calling into the governor’s office, the congressman’s office to help us tell them WE NEED HELP,” a worker at Rehabilitation Center II wrote in a Facebook post, according to the New York Times.
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In an attempt to help stop the spread, New Jersey’s Department of Health says it has sent shipments of masks and gloves to the nursing homes, while locals reportedly are preparing their own donations.
Danielson told the New York Times that 13 of the bodies found Monday are now inside a refrigerated truck outside of a hospital in a nearby town, while a funeral home was scheduled to collect the remaining four.