At least 36 people have died from the CCP virus at one of New Jersey’s largest nursing homes, the state Department of Health said Thursday, days after a tip led police to find 17 bodies in the facility’s morgue.
The nursing home is now under investigation by the state’s attorney general.
The nursing home, the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, is split into two buildings designated I and II.
Twenty-eight people died at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center II, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said, which is the same site where earlier this week police found bodies in the morgue. Another eight died at Center I.
As of Friday, there were more than 120 confirmed cases of coronavirus at both sites, according to the department.
State health officials were notified on Saturday that had 28 bodies were in storage and needed bags, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a news conference Thursday. Not all of the deaths were due to coronavirus, Persichilli said.
The local health department was sent there at 2 a.m. Sunday, Persichilli said.
“They surveyed the facility and reported back that there was appropriate staffing and PPE at that time,” she said. “Additionally they reported that they observed five bodies on site at that time.”
On Tuesday, another complaint said more bodies were being stored at the site, and another survey revealed it was short on staffing. The owner told health officials that staffing was “solid” with 12 nurses, Persichilli said.
“We are not pleased with what is going on at the Andover facility,” she said.
A spokesman for the facility said it has been “cooperating with public health officials to prioritize patient safety while caring for the remains of patients who have tragically passed—including a surge of those lost over the Easter holiday—even as New Jersey’s morgues and funeral homes are being overrun by this deadly disease.”
“Andover Subacute looks forward to assisting with any review by the state of recent events,” the statement said, “and is confident that such review will confirm that the facility has been addressing the unprecedented challenges from this pandemic appropriately.”
17 Bodies Found in Morgue
The facility came under scrutiny this week after a tip that a body was being kept in a shed, Andover Police Chief Eric Danielson previously told CNN.
Police didn’t find a body in a shed. But employees asked officers for help with the bodies in the morgue, each in a body bag with an identification tag.
“The staff was clearly overwhelmed and probably short-staffed,” Andover Police Chief Eric Danielson previously told CNN. At that time, it was unclear if residents had died from COVID-19.
According to the New York Times, the morgue was intended to hold up to four bodies.
Thirteen of the bodies were transferred to a refrigerated trailer at Newton Medical Center, while four remained on site.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday he was “outraged that bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue at the facility. New Jersians being cared for in our long-term care facilities deserved to be care for with respect, compassion, and dignity. We can and must do better.”
Danielson said he was in awe seeing so many bodies.
“It is by far one of the most bodies at one time that I’ve experienced in terms of a nursing home. Based upon the pandemic and the numbers we saw coming out of the facility, I don’t know if I’m necessarily shocked about that. It’s an unfortunate situation altogether,” Danielson said.
The CNN Wire and Epoch Times staff contributed to this report