New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he’s “outraged” that bodies of residents who died at a nursing home during the coronavirus outbreak were “allowed to pile up at a makeshift morgue” and called for the state’s top law enforcement officer to investigate, reports NJ.com. “New Jerseyans living in our longterm care facilities deserve to be cared for with respect, compassion and dignity,” Murphy said. “We can and must do better. This is just completely beyond the pale. A story like this shakes you to the bones.” Murphy asked state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to “look into the matter” and review all longterm care facilities in New Jersey “that have experienced a disproportionate number of deaths” during the pandemic. The governor said the state Department of Health will enforce “critical safety measures and protocols” at the facility in Andover and has sent a team there to assist the center’s staff and residents.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has sent “out-of-state surveyors” to do a “full survey” of the the facility, state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. Authorities discovered 17 dead bodies last weekend at the Andover center, the state’s largest longterm care facility. On Sunday, authorities received a request for 28 body bags at the home and discovered five bodies being stored in a room. On Monday, police received an anonymous tip about a body being loaded into a shed on the property, and discovered 12 more bodies being stored on site. In all, 35 people have died there since March 30, including 19 due to COVID-19. Grewal said he is “deeply troubled by the high number of deaths at certain nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the state, especially those with below-average track records for health inspections, staffing, and quality of care.”