Officials find 17 bodies inside New Jersey nursing home
ANDOVER, NJ - Authorities found 17 bodies stored inside a New Jersey nursing home amid the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the attorney general to investigate the facility.
Police said they found the bodies after a request came through for 25 body bags to be delivered to the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover, New Jersey.
Police said five bodies were initially discovered in the facility's holding area, and they were tipped off that another body was stored in a shed. Though there was no body in the shed, more were found inside the holding area after police searched the it again.
The 17 bodies were among 68 deaths linked to the facility from Jan. 1 to April 15, including two nurses, according to the Sussex County Department of Health. Of those deaths, 33 were confirmed to be related to COVID-19.
At least 100 residents have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and 40 staff members have tested positive.
"It's horrific," Rep. Josh Gottheimer, whose district includes Sussex County, told ABC News.
Gottheimer said two of the biggest challenges are providing enough personal protective equipment and making sure there is enough staffing.
"There is such a massive shortage there, these are people who need help; and not just from the virus, but day to day," Gottheimer said. "Breaks your heart when you hear these stories."
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal confirmed in a statement that his office was investigating the facility.
The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center is the largest nursing home in the state with more than 500 beds and two buildings.
Judy Persichilli, the state's Department of Health commissioner, said that at one of the buildings 84 residents were diagnosed with COVID-19. Since March 30, there had been 28 deaths at that building, 14 of which were due to the virus, according to Persichilli.
At the other building, 19 residents have been reported as COVID-19 positive and subsequently hospitalized, according to Persichilli.
The owner of the nursing home denied that 17 bodies had been found.
"To clarify previous news reports, there was a total of 15 bodies in our holding room on April 13th. Eight of them actually expired on April 13th and a total of 13 bodies were removed before midnight and occurred with the assistance of Andover police department," Mutty Scheinbaum, the owner, said in a statement to ABC News.
"The owners, administrators and our heroic healthcare staff of nurses and nurse aides have been working relentlessly to contain the virus and safeguard our residents and staff. The health and safety of our residents and staff is our utmost priority and responsibility," he said. "Ownership and administration is working around the clock to ensure we are able to resolve the pandemic."
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