New Jersey to investigate nursing homes with high coronavirus deaths

New Jersey to investigate nursing homes with high coronavirus deaths
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has directed his attorney general to investigate nursing homes in the state that are experiencing high numbers of coronavirus deaths.

Murphy’s announcement on Thursday came after officials found 17 bodies in a nursing home morgue that was built for no more than four people.

“I am outraged that the bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue at the facility,” Murphy tweeted.

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Police received an anonymous tip Monday about bodies being stored in a storage shed at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, the largest long-term care facility in the state.

Judith Persichilli, the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, provided more details about the incident on Tuesday.

The department said it was notified on Saturday that the facility was in need of body bags for the deceased residents, and there were 28 bodies being stored.

Local health officials visited the facility at 2 a.m. Sunday morning and reported that there was appropriate staffing at the time.

Officials said they found five bodies on-site, and staff said three bodies were released earlier in the day.

The department received another complaint Tuesday that more bodies were being stored at the facility. The local health department surveyed the facility and found it was short on staffing.

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“We’re not pleased with what is going on at Andover Facility,” Persichilli said.

Between the facility’s two buildings, 103 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Another 133 residents are showing flu-like or respiratory symptoms.

Nineteen residents have died of COVID-19.

"We’ll follow the facts wherever they go," New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote on Twitter, confirming his office had opened a statewide investigation.

Grewal said he was "deeply concerned with the high number of deaths in NJ’s nursing homes, especially those with below-average safety records."

The coronavirus has spread quickly at nursing homes in New Jersey and throughout the country.

Persichilli said 379 nursing homes and assisted living facilities have reported 8,209 coronavirus cases.

The state has confirmed 75,317 total coronavirus cases, including 3,156 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.