HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The government says 170 people now have been sickened in the meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroid shots, and 14 of them have died.

Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for a criminal investigation of the matter.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story

He said a criminal investigation will determine whether the people at the New England Compounding Center knew that they were distributing a contaminated product and if they deliberately lied to cover it up.

Blumenthal who has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct the investigation.

“Was this contamination the result of willful and purposeful actions that they could’ve foreseen would cause death and injury, serious sickness to hundreds of people across the country?” Blumenthal said.

The specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts has recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 states, as well as everything else it makes.

The company has been shut down, but Blumenthal says it’s critical to learn whether its officers and employees knowingly pushed a product that caused the illnesses and deaths.

Idaho becomes the 11th state to report at least one illness. The others are Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the count Thursday, showing 33 more cases and two additional deaths reported to the agency.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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