coronavirus

More Coronavirus Deaths Reported at Soldiers' Homes in Chelsea, Holyoke

One more veteran resident died at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, while three more died at the Chelsea Soldiers' Home

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Massachusetts health officials reported 169 news COVID-19 deaths Sunday, bringing the the total number of deaths in the state since the pandemic began to 2,899. More than 1,630 of the deaths were in residents of long-term care facilities.

Of all nursing homes in the state, 303 have at least one case of the novel coronavirus, the state reported Sunday. More than 10,000 residents or healthcare workers at long-term care facilities across the commonwealth have tested positive for the virus.

The death toll has continued to climb at two of the hardest hit facilities in the state, the Soldiers' Homes in Holyoke and Chelsea.

Another veteran resident who had tested positive for COVID-19 died at Holyoke Soldiers' Home this weekend, bringing the facility's death total to 76. Of the veterans who have died, 66 have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Overall, 82 veteran residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 while eight others have pending tests. Additionally, 81 employees have also tested positive for the virus.

The facility in Holyoke, which is at the center of several different investigations, said Sunday that it is receiving strong support from the National Guard to maintain adequate staffing, noting that additional management staff is being onboarded to lead the facility's operations, including two nursing executives and a project manager.

Next week, staff members will be observed across all shifts for appropriate usage of personal protective equipment, according to the facility.

Elsewhere, the Chelsea Soldiers' Home reported three new deaths this weekend, two of whom had tested positive for COVID-19. Twenty-three residents have now died in total, with 17 of those veterans testing positive for the disease.

Overall, 30 veteran residents and 52 staff members have been diagnosed with the virus at the Chelsea facility so far.

Through retesting, some veterans are testing positive and many are being transferred to other facilities.

The facility said Sunday it continues to enforce safety measures, including monitoring the supply of PPE, and that it is closely monitoring staffing levels. To date, 60 slots have been filled through staffing agency contracted roles.

At both Soldiers' Homes, Governor Charlie Baker has advised flags be lowered to half-staff until the end of the public health emergency, as well as at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam and Winchendon due to the fact Military Honors are unavailable during this crisis.

Mass. Gov. Baker addresses "devastating" situation at Holyoke Soldiers' Home during a COVID-19 press conference update.
NBC10 Boston and the Associated Press
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