The bodies of 18 people have been found at a care home in New Jersey.
Police discovered five bodies on Sunday and a further 13 the following day after receiving an anonymous tip that the home was storing a body outside, according to Andover Township Police chief Eric Danielson.
The 13 bodies were found in a building used to house deceased residents until they can be collected by a funeral home, according to the New Jersey Herald.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he was “outraged” that bodies of the dead were “allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue” at the facility.
“New Jerseyans living in our long-term care facilities deserve to be cared for with respect, compassion and dignity,” he added.
Chaim Scheinbaum, who co-owns the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Centre, said in an email to the state’s governor that the “more than average deaths” had meant that more bodies needed to be stored in the facility, which usually has a capacity of four.
Mr Scheinbaum added that staffing at the facility is “solid”, and is operating with 12 nurses, one more than normal, and 39 nursing assistants, one fewer than normal.
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The centre has been severely impacted by COVID-19, with more than 100 staff and residents testing positive for the disease, according to the New York Times.
Two nurses and 66 residents from the home have died so far during the pandemic, with 26 of those deaths confirmed as being linked to coronavirus, the newspaper added.
Representative Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat whose district covers Andover Township, said he was told at the weekend that the home was in desperate need of body bags, and received calls and emails from concerned relatives.
“One of my concerns is that these facilities are not communicating in real time,” he said.
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“That’s what I’ve been hearing from families. That’s outrageous, it’s completely unacceptable that they have to call me for updates.”
New Jersey health officials say that 471 care home residents have passed away with suspect COVID-19, while 358 out of the state’s 375 centres have reported positive cases of coronavirus.