Veteran deaths rise in coronavirus outbreaks at Holyoke, Chelsea soldiers’ homes

Twenty five veterans have now died in a coronavirus outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home — 18 of whom tested positive for COVID-19 — and five have died in a flare-up of the disease at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, state officials said Tuesday.

In all, 65 veterans and 67 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus at the Holyoke facility. Another 94 veterans and 210 staff members have tested negative, according to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Among the 25 deceased veterans, 18 tested positive, three tested negative, three tests are pending and one is unknown. All of the Holyoke facility’s residents had been tested as of last week, and staff tests were wrapping up early this week.

Families can call 413-552-4764 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for information on loved ones, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Families can also request updates via email at CommunicationsMailbox-HLY@Mass.gov.

Of the five residents who died at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, four tested positive for COVID-19 and one test is pending. Another 14 veterans and nine staff members have tested positive, 19 veterans have tested negative, and 258 veterans are awaiting results. State testing is expected to wrap up this week, and staff currently on medical leave are being screened via drive-thru testing in the parking lot, the state said.

Staff have closed all community and shared areas at the Chelsea facility to curb the spread of the virus. Residents in the dormitory portion of the facility are being screened coming in and out, and visitors are restricted. Veterans have been given iPads so they can communicate with loved ones.

Families can request updates on their loved ones at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home by emailing CSH@mass.gov.

Members of the National Guard were also en route Tuesday to the Palm nursing home in Chelmsford to conduct widespread testing after “numerous residents tested positive for COVID-19” according to a press release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in its scale and spread,” said Chelmsford police Chief James Spinney said. “We are fortunate to have great partnerships and excellent chains of communication among municipal first responders, our Chelmsford health department, state health officials and administrators at the Palm Center. The health and safety of our most vulnerable residents comes first for everyone.”

Massachusetts has more than 13,837 confirmed coronavirus cases, including more than 835 among residents and health care workers at long-term care facilities. At least 119 facilities have reported at least one case of COVID-19, according to the state Department of Public Health.

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