In the state of New Jersey, most nursing homes have reported at least one case of coronavirus infection, and as of Wednesday, the virus had infected 6,815 patients of long-term care facilities across the state. On Wednesday, April 15th, 2020, it was announced at least 45 of the 351 COVID-19-related deaths were residents of long-term care facilities. An anonymous tip was received over the weekend about a body being stored in a shed outside Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, one of New Jersey’s largest nursing homes. The corpse had been removed from the shed by the time the police had arrived, but then police discovered 17 bodies piled up inside a small morgue in the nursing home intended to hold only four people.
The 17 corpses were among 68 deaths traced to the long-term care facility, Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, which included two nurses. Twenty-six of the people who had died had tested positive for COVID-19. The cause of death is unknown for the other forty-two people.
With beds for 700 patients, Andover Subacute is New Jersey’s largest licensed facility, and the risk of coronavirus continuing to spread is scaring family members who have expressed themselves on social media and called their local congressman, pleading for answers and extra personnel. “The challenge we’re having with all of these nursing homes, is once it spreads, it’s like a wildfire. It’s very hard to stop it,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer. He is a Democrat who received the call on Saturday in which people were asking for body bags. Chaim Scheinbaum, who is one of the owners of Andover Subacute, did not return any calls or emails, and staff members who answered phones at the facilities claimed they were not authorized to speak to the news and/or media.“It’s scary for everybody — for the residents and for the staff,” Representative Gottheimer said. “What is surprising to me is how many are dying in house, versus the hospital.”
The nursing home is housing sick patients on separate wings or floors, Police Chief Eric Danielson said, who is the Office of Emergency Management Coordinator for Andover Township. Local residents of the area have been gathering supplies in an effort to donate to the nursing home. The patients who remain there are being housed in two buildings, and 76 people have tested positive for the virus; 41 staff members, including an administrator, have COVID-19.
Thirteen of the corpses discovered on Monday at the Andover facility were moved to a refrigerated truck outside a nearby hospital in Newton, New Jersey, and a funeral home has made arrangements to pick up the other four bodies.