Police discover 17 bodies in New Jersey nursing home hit hard by COVID-19: report

Police discover 17 bodies in New Jersey nursing home hit hard by COVID-19: report
A 21st Medical Group professional tests an individual for the Coronavirus at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, March 20, 2020. In order to be tested for COVID-19, patients must first be evaluated by phone and meet criteria recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Medical staff will test patients who will remain in their vehicle. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian)

Residents of nursing homes can be vulnerable to coronavirus for a number of reasons: (1) the residents are older, (2) they are more likely to have chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and (3) they share the facilities with a lot of other patients. And on Monday, according to the New York Times, police found the bodies of 17 people piled into a small morgue inside a nursing home in Andover, New Jersey about 50 miles from New York City.

Andover Police Chief Eric C. Danielson told the Times, “They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring.”

Those 17 people, however, are not the only ones who have died at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II in Sussex County, New Jersey. Altogether, according to the Times, 68 people have died in that nursing home (which includes two separate buildings). Among those 68, 26 had tested positive for coronavirus, although Times reporter Tracey Tully notes that the cause of death is “unknown” for the other 42.

Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, according to Tully, has enough beds for 700 patients. And Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, warned that coronavirus can spread very easily in such a facility.

“The challenge we’re having with all of these nursing homes is once it spreads, it’s like a wildfire,” Gottheimer told the New York Times.  “It’s very hard to stop it.”

Patients are not the only ones who have suffered from COVID-19 inside Andover Subacute. According to Gottheimer, 41 staff members (including an administrator) have tested positive for coronavirus.

Gottheimer also told the Times that after being alerted to the dangerous conditions at Andover Subacute, he spoke to a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about possibly sending in National Guard Medics.

As of Wednesday, more than 3,100 people had died from coronavirus in New Jersey — where Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has complained that not nearly enough COVID-19 testing has been taking place.

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