21 residents have died at Holyoke veterans home, 59 total test positive for COVID-19

HOLYOKE, Mass. — Officials announced 21 residents of a veterans home in western Massachusetts have died in recent days as the center battles an outbreak of COVID-19.

Out of the 21 dead, 15 had tested positive for the virus. So far, 59 veterans at Holyoke Soldier’s Home have tested positive for coronvirus while 160 have tested negative. The status of the six other tests is unknown at this time.

State officials were only made aware of the hot spot after nearly 13 deaths from the disease over the past weekend.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said Tuesday that the administrator mismanaged the outbreak.

Mayor Alex Morse said the first deaths occurred last Wednesday, but officials at the home failed to disclose the deaths until Sunday. Morse said he’d called Bennett Walsh, the facility’s then-superintendent, directly after receiving an anonymous complaint. Walsh has since been removed from that role.

On Wednesday, Governor Charlie Baker announced he had hired a lawyer to investigate the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home that was hit hard recently by the coronavirus.

“The loss of veteran residents to COVID-19 is tragic and a stark reminder of the devastating impact of this disease. We will continue to make every resource available to the clinical command centers at the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes as they work to care for the veteran residents and staff, including deploying additional staff, supplies, and support for veteran residents, families, and employees as they navigate the challenges of this unprecedented pandemic.”

—  Executive Office of Health Human Services spokesperson

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