Folks in Andover are reeling over the news that more than a dozen bodies were discovered at the Andover Subacute and Rehab Center. Considered one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks involving a long-term care facility in the country, police discovered 17 bodies piled up in a temporary morgue at a Sussex County nursing home last weekend.
During a news conference, the mayor and the police chief described the facility as understaffed and overwhelmed. They said that staff were doing the best they could without having the appropriate equipment to protect themselves and their patients.
The nursing home is now under lockdown. Only emergency ambulances, police, and staff are allowed in and out.
“There were a lot of shortcomings when the chief had investigators go in on Sunday at 2 o’clock in the morning. There were quite a few issues that were raised and addressed in a report that the staff here have been doing a great job with what they have, but just understaffed and not having the right equipment to do their job,” said Mayor Michael Lesnak.
“Over the weekend we had received a phone call that worked its way down the chain from the state level down to us at the local level requesting 25 body bags. That was our first alarm that had gone off regarding this. Come to find out they only had five bodies that they were waiting to be transferred to a local funeral home that day,” said Andover Township Police Department Chief Eric Danielson. “Monday afternoon we had received a report that a body had been outside in a shed, a deceased body. And upon getting here we did not find a body inside a shed. It had either been removed prior to our arrival or it never occurred, we’re not sure. But one way or the other, they were overcome by bodies and we needed to be able to help them.”
Late Thursday afternoon, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said they were notified over the weekend about the crisis.
“Nineteen residents have been reported as positive for COVID-19, two are hospitalized. Thirty-four residents have been identified as having flu-like symptoms. There have bene seven total deaths since April 3. Five of the deaths have been due to COVID-19. And they also report four staff members with flu-like symptoms,” she said.
The facility released a statement saying, “Current staffing is solid with 12 nurses and 39 CNAs […] The back up and holiday weekend issues […] contributed to the presence of more deceased than normal […] Despite media reports […] the Medical Director was aware and in control at all times.”
Gov. Phil Murphy responded stating he is completely outraged by this and wants a full investigation by the attorney general.