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Police find 17 bodies at an overwhelmed New Jersey nursing home

CBS News probes nursing home virus deaths
CBS News probes nursing home virus deaths 03:02

New Jersey police discovered 17 bodies inside an overwhelmed nursing home's morgue on Monday. The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, in Andover, New Jersey, was only equipped to handle four bodies. 

According to police, the bodies were discovered after New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer received a request from the nursing home for 25 body bags. The high number of fatalities at the nursing home was unknown to authorities, prompting a police visit. 

Upon visiting the center, police learned that the morgue was holding 17 bodies — but only had the capacity for four — and that one body was kept in a shed before being moved to the morgue.  The New York Times reported that the 17 bodies were among 68 recent deaths linked to the facility, and 26 of the people who died had tested positive for COVID-19.

Nursing homes across the country have been struggling to protect their vulnerable residents from the deadly coronavirus. A CBS News investigation found that a lack of mandatory testing for residents and employees, staffing issues and a shortage of personal protective equipment are the center's biggest problems.  

Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center
Medical workers at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center on April 16, 2020, in Andover, New Jersey.  Eduardo Munoz Alvarez /Getty

Federal officials are facing criticism for not publicly tracking infections and deaths inside nursing homes. Out of 50 states, CBS News was able to get complete data from only 19 on the rate of infection and death at these facilities. Officials from these states confirmed that more than 35,000 seniors and staff have tested positive for the virus, and more than 5,700 have died. 

The New Jersey case was passed on to the state's department of health, according to police. Thirteen of the bodies have been transferred to a refrigerated trailer at a different location, bringing the center's morgue back to capacity. 

Police would not comment on whether the nursing home will face any charges. 

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