NEW JERSEY - Authorities found 18 bodies of coronavirus victims jammed into a makeshift morgue at a nursing home in Andover, New Jersey.
An extraordinary number of coronavirus-related deaths appears to have overwhelmed the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center.
Police got an anonymous tip Monday that a body was being stored outside the home, Andover Township Police Chief Eric Danielson said Thursday.
When police arrived, he said, the body wasn't where the tipster had said it was — but they found 13 bodies inside. They were removed Monday night and taken to a hospital in a refrigerated truck.
The story was first reported by the NJ Herald.
The remains found at the facility are among 68 deaths linked to the home, including residents and two nurses, the New York Times reported.
Five bodies were found on Easter Sunday and 13 the next day. At least 68 people, including two nurses, connected to the facility have recently died.
Staffing was adequate, but an extraordinary number of deaths over the weekend had overwhelmed the facility's resources, a co-owner of the home said in an email Thursday.
"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," nursing home co-owner Chaim Scheinbaum wrote.
The area used to house deceased residents until they can be picked up by a funeral home has a normal capacity of four, "with a maximum of 12," Scheinbaum wrote.
Staffing at the facility is "solid" with 12 nurses, one more than normal, and 39 nursing assistants, one fewer than normal, Scheinbaum wrote.
Police released a photo of a box truck parked outside the home that was being used to store the bodies after a hazmat team removed them.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday said he was "heartbroken" and "outraged" by what happened at the facility. He said he directed the state's attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, to investigate what is happening there as well as at other long-term care homes in the state.
Deaths at New Jersey nursing homes are an ongoing problem.
In Paramus, at least 24 people have died at the New Jersey Veterans Home and at least 75 residents have tested positive for the virus.
In a tweet, Grewal said he is "deeply concerned" about the number of people dying at nursing homes and that his office has begun a statewide investigation. "We'll follow the facts wherever they go," he tweeted. "Stay tuned."
More than 3,300 deaths nationwide have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, an alarming rise in just the past two weeks, according to the latest count by The Associated Press.
As of April 12, there were at least 2,646 deaths, up from about 450 deaths nearly two weeks ago.
But the true toll among the 1 million mostly frail and elderly people who live in such facilities is likely much higher, experts say, because most state counts don’t include those who died without ever being tested for COVID-19.
With the Associated Press