At least 80 veterans from the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in the Massachusetts city of the same name have died after contracting COVID-19.
Fox News reports, noting that an additional 82 vets and 81 have tested positive for the disease.
“It’s horrific,” Edward Lapointe, whose father-in-law lives at the facility and contracted a mild case of the virus, told the network. “These guys never had a chance.”
Fox News adds:
The outbreak has now claimed the lives of nearly one-third of all residents at the veterans’ home, with a new fatality being reported almost every day.
With limited staffing, workers were forced to routinely travel to other units in order to provide help, which caused the virus to spread at an extremely high rate, according to Joan Miller, a nurse at the home.
Some workers were without proper personal protective equipment, the Boston Globe reported.
Miller noted further that administrators at the home were forced to close an entire wing because there weren’t enough employees to work, which led to veterans being placed in close contact with infected residents.
“Veterans were on top of each other. We didn’t know who was positive and who was negative and then they grouped people together and that really exacerbated it even more,”
“That’s when it really blew up.”
A number of vets were in the age bracket where they were not only more susceptible to COVID-19, but were more likely to suffer from the most severe symptoms.
According to WWLP, Superintendent Bennet Walsh, who has since been placed on administrative leave after the state stepped in to manage the outbreak.
The station reported:
According to the minutes, Walsh said they were taking similar precautions to the flu, to protect their residents from Covid-19. He also said their Covid-19 response was approved by both the state’s Office of Health and Human Services and Dept. of Veteran Services.
Walsh also noted that they had been discussing Covid-19 precautions with the city, and were prepared to contact four outside agencies if the need raised for more staffing. Walsh’s attorney William Bennett told the I-Team Walsh’s documented communication with state officials has been handed over to state investigators.
Just 106 residents remained at the home, according to a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services, Brooke Karanovich.
But for all the wrong reasons, some have concluded that the outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home has crested and is now on the decline.