17 bodies found in makeshift morgue at New Jersey nursing home

Gabrielle Masson - Print  | 

Police discovered 17 bodies in a small morgue made for no more than four people at a New Jersey nursing home, according to The New York Times. 

The 17 were among 68 recent deaths, including two nurses, tied to Andover (N.J.) Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, officials said. Twenty-six of the deceased had tested positive for COVID-19, but the cause of death for the others is unknown.

Thirteen of the bodies were moved to a refrigerated truck outside a hospital in Newton, N.J., while a funeral home will pick up the other four, said Andover Police Chief Eric Danielson. 

Of the current residents, 76 have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 41 staff members, according to county health records shared April 15. Representatives for the nursing homes said they are housing sick patients on separate wings or floors, Mr. Danielson said.

"The challenge we're having with all of these nursing homes is once it spreads, it's like a wildfire," said Democratic state Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who received a call from the home April 11 asking for body bags. He said he had discussed the possibility of sending in National Guard medics with a Federal Emergency Management Agency representative.

The state health department sent the nursing homes 3,200 surgical masks, 1,400 N95 masks and 10,000 gloves, said spokesperson Donna Leusner. Community members have gathered supplies to donate to the 700-bed facility, the largest in the state, amid shortages. 

"It's pretty clear that a big weakness in the system, and in reality, is long-term care facilities," Gov. Philip Murphy said.

Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II previously received a one-star rating from CMS regarding its staffing levels, inspections and patient care.

One of the facility owners, Chaim Scheinbaum, did not respond to NYT's request for comment.

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