The grisly discovery of 17 bodies stored inside a New Jersey nursing home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic has prompted the state 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.
Officials initially discovered five bodies in the facility’s holding area, but they were then tipped off that another body was being stored in a shed, according to police.
Though no body was found in the shed, more were found inside the holding area after police searched the area again.
The 17 bodies were among 68 recent deaths linked to the facility, including two nurses, Congressman Josh Gottheimer, whose district includes Sussex County where the facility is located, told ABC News. Of the residents, at least 76 have tested positive for COVID-19, while 40 staff members have tested positive, according to Gottheimer.
“It’s horrific,” the congressman said.
He 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.”
He said the biggest focus for management is figuring how to stop the death toll from continuing to rise and his office will coordinate with the facility to help.
“Right now we are just trying to help them to do whatever it is to help people, and [there is] going to be a very deep investigation into the facility,” Gottheimer said, adding that right now the concern is “how do we help the residents there and how do we keep them safe.”
The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center is the largest nursing home in the state with more than 500 beds, according to Gottheimer.
When reached by ABC News, an employee at the nursing home said there would be no comment.
Nursing homes have been particularly devastated across the country under the pandemic, with some seeing daily increases in deaths.