Anonymous tip leads police to 17 bodies at a nursing home hit hard by coronavirus

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  • Josh Gottheimer
    American politician from New Jersey

An anonymous person called the police department in Andover, New Jersey, on Monday to report that a corpse was being stored in a shed outside the largest licensed nursing home in the state. When officers arrived, they discovered the body was gone, but found 17 others inside the facility's tiny morgue.

The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II has 700 beds in two buildings, The New York Times reports. There have been 68 recent deaths of residents and nurses, with at least 26 testing positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. As of Wednesday, 76 patients and 41 staffers have also tested positive for the virus. Andover Police Chief Eric Danielson told the Times the facility was "just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring." He added, "I don't know if I'm shocked by any means."

Most long-term care facilities in New Jersey have reported at least one case of the coronavirus to state authorities. As of Wednesday, 6,815 patients in New Jersey have been infected by the virus, and at least 45 of the day's 351 deaths related to COVID-19 took place at a nursing home.

"The challenge we're having with all of these nursing homes is once it spreads, it's like a wildfire," Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D) told the Times. "It's very hard to stop it." His office has been receiving calls from worried nurses and family members of residents, and "it's scary for everybody," Gottheimer said. "What is surprising to me is how many are dying in house, versus the hospital."

Local health officials were told by Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation I and II staffers that sick patients were separated from other residents, and placed on the same floors or wings. Prior to the pandemic, Medicare gave the facility a one-star rating, or "much below average," based on staffing levels, patient care, and inspections. Read more at The New York Times.

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