New Jersey AG opens investigation into deaths in retirement homes after 17 bodies found in coronavirus-affected facility


New Jersey has opened an investigation into deaths in nursing homes across the state after officials discovered 17 bodies crammed into a makeshift morgue and more than 100 residents infected with Covid-19 in a care facility long term, state officials said on Thursday.

Governor Phil Murphy said he was “shocked” that staff at Andover’s rehab and acute care center in northern New Jersey had crowded the deceased residents into a small room in the facility.

“A story like this shakes you to the bone,” said Governor Phil Murphy at a press conference. “New Jerseyans living in our long-term care facilities deserve to be treated with respect, compassion and dignity. We can and must do better. “

State and local authorities inspected the facility around 2 a.m. Sunday after receiving a call saying it needed body bags and was storing 28 bodies, the health commissioner told reporters from New Jersey, Judy Persichilli. There were only five bodies on the scene; three others were turned over to local morgues earlier, she said. They received another complaint on Tuesday, she said. It was not immediately clarified when the remains of the bodies were discovered or if they died due to Covid-19.

The Sussex County Department of Health did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for further details.

Officials have since discovered that 103 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus and 133 others have flu-like symptoms between the two facility buildings, she said. At least 35 residents have died since March 30; 19 of them were attributed to Covid-19, she said. At least 52 employees have reported flu-like symptoms.

Murphy said he had asked state attorney general Gurbir Grewal to review all long-term care facilities in the state that had experienced a disproportionate number of deaths since the start of the epidemic in beginning of the year.

“We are not satisfied with what is happening on the Andover site,” said Persichilli.

The state is working to alleviate the overburdened mortuary system. He ordered 20 refrigerated trucks to serve as temporary mortuaries a few weeks ago and has set up an additional location in central New Jersey that will serve as “temporary storage” for the deceased, said Colonel Pat Callahan, superintendent of New Jersey state police. .

So far, at least four of the trucks have arrived in the state, said Callahan.

“What we’re really trying to work out is the process by which funeral directors bring the deceased to this fixed location, which I think will really lighten the system,” he said. .

On April 16, 2020, in Andover, New Jersey, medical workers put on masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prepare to transport a deceased body.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | Getty Images

There are currently 379 long-term care and assisted living facilities reporting at least one Covid-19 case in their facilities, bringing the total number of reported cases to more than 8,209 in long-term care facilities duration, said Persichilli.

Persichilli reported 4,391 new cases of Covid-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 75,317 confirmed cases. The state reported 362 new deaths, 54 of which resided in long-term care facilities. The coronavirus has now killed 3,518 people in the state, she said.


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