ANDOVER, N.J. – Police in New Jersey received a tip that a corpse was being kept in a shed outside a nursing home facility. Yet their discovery was far more grim. They found 17 bodies piled up in a small morgue inside the location.
Law enforcement officers came across the scene Monday at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II in Sussex County, reported 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 COVID-19.
“They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring,” Andover Police Chief Eric Danielson told the newspaper.
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.
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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, FOX News reported.
“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. However, the circumstances have created panic among staff and family members.
“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.
New Jersey’s Department of Health says it has sent shipments of masks and gloves to the nursing homes in an attempt to help. Moreover, local residents 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.