Officers from the Andover Township Police Department found the bodies at Andover’s sub-acute and rehabilitation center after searching for anonymous information about the poor storage of corpses during the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reported.
The bodies were placed in a morgue built for only four people while the nursing home was grappling with rising deaths.
“They were just overwhelmed by the number of people dying,” said Eric Danielson, Andover’s police chief, after finding the bodies on Easter Sunday and the following Monday.
The 17 bodies were among 68 recent deaths related to the long-term care center, 26 of these deaths having tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Times.
Andover Subacute can accommodate 700 beds. Of the patients who remain in the two buildings, 76 tested positive for the virus in addition to 41 other staff, the Times reported.
Nursing home and Danielson did not respond to requests for comment.
Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, New Jersey’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, told the New Jersey Herald that she was concerned about staffing levels and the lack of personal protective equipment in state nursing homes.
His office specifically launched three cases of investigation into Andover Subacute between March 13 and April 13.
Now, with so many facilities affected, families are desperately calling us for information and answers on why their loved ones are not being tested, wondering if they are receiving the appropriate treatment or if they are not COVID -19 positive, if they are, “Facciarossa Brewer told the Herald in a statement.
“The lack of tests and the scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE) seem to be a major problem, even at this late date.”