Police in New Jersey found 17 corpses at a nursing home in the town of Andover on Monday, according to a new report from the New York Times. The bleak news serves as a devastating reminder that the coronavirus pandemic is still wreaking havoc on the country’s most vulnerable people, despite calls from many Republicans to “reopen” the economy by May 1.
The 17 dead residents in Andover bring the nursing home’s recent death toll to 68, though not all have been tested for the new coronavirus yet. At least 26 of the dead have tested positive for covid-19 so far, but it’s not clear everyone will be tested. A lack of testing capacity has hampered the ability of health departments across the U.S. to get an accurate tally of covid-19's victims and President Donald Trump has backtracked on promises to expand testing.
The New Jersey nursing home, identified as Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, reportedly has a morgue that fits just four people, despite the fact that 17 bodies were stacked into the cramped quarters. An anonymous call tipped off police that someone should look into the “overwhelming” number of deaths at the facility. Andover Police brought a box truck to the facility to set up a makeshift morgue for at least 13 of the bodies on Monday, according to the New Jersey Herald.
The nursing home has room for 700 elderly residents and at least 76 additional patients have tested positive for the disease, with at least 41 staff sick as well. It’s not clear how many patients and staff have been tested yet, but the state Health Department is reportedly sending more personal protective equipment (PPE) and examining the nursing home’s protocols after concerns were raised this week.
New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Michigan have been hit hard by the coronavirus, and nursing homes in particular have seen more deaths than usual from the pandemic. Roughly 25 percent of New York state’s 14,703 covid-19 deaths have been connected to nursing homes. And about 10 percent of the 60,000 people currently in New Jersey’s elderly care facilities have the virus, according to State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. At least 324 of the state’s 375 nursing homes have confirmed cases as of April 13.
Roughly 35 percent of Wayne County, Michigan’s covid-19 deaths have been in nursing homes, and Louisiana reports more than 1,300 cases of coronavirus in the state’s nursing homes, which is likely far lower than the real numbers.
Nursing homes across the U.S. have seen high death tolls from the coronavirus, with just a few examples below:
- 37 deaths at Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington
- 24 dead at Veterans Memorial Home in Paramus, New Jersey
- 14 dead at a nursing home in Menlo Park, New Jersey
The U.S. more broadly has identified over 639,000 cases of the disease and 30,985 deaths, as of Thursday morning, and those numbers are only expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.
Again, President Trump and his cronies are desperate to “open up” the country, but everyone needs to know what that means. At least Louisiana Senator John Kennedy seems to admit there will be a much higher death toll after that happens. The Republican appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show last night, insisting that the shutdown was like “trying to burn down the village to save it.” Kennedy said that America needs to end the shutdown “soon” so that the economy doesn’t “collapse.”
“When we end the shutdown, the virus is going to spread faster. That’s just a fact. And the American people understand that,” Sen. Kennedy said.
But let’s be clear: While plenty of younger people are succumbing to this virus, elderly Americans and racial minorities are the people being hit hardest. Senator Kennedy is not actually volunteering to die for the sake of the economy. He’s asking you and the people you love to die.