Officials find 17 bodies in NJ nursing home morgue built to hold 4

Officials find 17 bodies in NJ nursing home morgue built to hold 4
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Officials acting on a tip this week discovered 17 bodies in a New Jersey nursing home stricken by the coronavirus, all of them in a small morgue area built for no more than four bodies.

“They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring,” Andover, N.J., Police Chief Eric C. Danielson told The New York Times.

A total of 68 deaths have been linked to Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, officials said, including two nurses. Twenty-six of those who have died had tested positive for the virus, while the cause of death is unknown for the others. Meanwhile, 76 of the remaining patients have tested positive, as have 41 staff members, including an administrator, the Times reported.

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The 700-bed home is the largest licensed facility in the state, and the outbreak had prompted numerous family members to reach out to the media and their elected representatives to ask them to pressure it to add extra personnel.

“The challenge we’re having with all of these nursing homes, is once it spreads, it’s like a wildfire,” said Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Florida's coronavirus surge raises questions about GOP convention New Jersey Rep. Gottheimer wins House primary New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries MORE (D-N.J.), who said he has received such calls from his constituents, told the Times. “It’s very hard to stop it.”

“It’s scary for everybody — for the residents and for the staff,” he added. “What is surprising to me is how many are dying in house, versus the hospital.”

Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for New Jersey's Department of Health, said the state has sent 3,200 surgical masks, 1,400 N95 respirator masks and 10,000 gloves to nursing homes, adding the first shipment went out about a week ago, according to the Times.

Nursing homes have been particularly susceptible to the virus, with an outbreak killing at least 45 people in a Richmond, Va., facility and 43 at another in Seattle.