An extraordinary number of deaths over the weekend overwhelmed a nursing home in New Jersey where police responding to an anonymous tip found more than a dozen bodies.
Five bodies were found on Sunday and 13 more were found on Monday at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Centre in Andover Township, Police Chief Eric Danielson told The New Jersey Herald.
The remains found at the facility were among 68 deaths linked to the home, including both residents and two nurses, The New York Times reported, citing Danielson, other officials and county records shared with a federal official.
At least 26 of those deaths were confirmed by laboratory tests to be related to Covid-19, the newspaper said.
THREAD:— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) April 16, 2020
This is one of the largest facilities in the state, with hundreds of residents, nurses, and other staff. The outbreak there has spread like wildfire, with so many loved ones sick and far too many who have died from the virus. (1/3)https://t.co/midwaHSge3
Staffing at the facility was adequate, but an extraordinary number of deaths over the weekend overwhelmed the facility’s resources, a co-owner of the home said in an email to the office of US Rep Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.
“The back-up and after hours holiday weekend issues, plus more than average deaths, contributed to the presence of more deceased than normal in the facility holding room,” co-owner Chaim Scheinbaum wrote in the email.
The 13 bodies were found in a room used to house deceased residents until they can be picked up by a funeral home, the Herald reported.
The area has a normal capacity of four, “with a maximum of 12″, Mr Scheinbaum wrote.
Staffing at the facility is “solid” with 12 nurses, one more than normal, and 39 nursing assistants, one fewer than normal, Mr Scheinbaum wrote.
Police released a photo of a truck parked outside the home that was being used to store the bodies after a hazmat team removed them.
More than 100 residents and staff members have tested positive for coronavirus, the Times reported.
Mr Gottheimer, a Democrat whose district covers Andover Township, said he was notified over the weekend that the facility was “desperate for body bags”.
He said he has received calls and emails from concerned relatives.
“One of my concerns is that these facilities are not communicating in real time,” he said.
“That’s what I’ve been hearing from families. That’s outrageous, it’s completely unacceptable that they have to call me for updates.”
The coronavirus has spread quickly through nursing homes around the country, leading to pressure on federal health officials to publicly track Covid-19 infections and deaths.
In New Jersey, 471 residents of long-term care facilities had died through Wednesday, and 358 of the state’s 375 facilities have reported positive cases, according to state health officials.
Since last month, the state has banned visitation, ordered universal masking and required that all facilities notify residents, family and staff of any outbreaks.