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Nearly 70 dead in 'horrific' outbreak at Massachusetts veterans' home

Federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care and the state’s top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action.
Credit: AP
Flags and wreaths honor veterans, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass., where a number of people died due to the coronavirus. While the death toll at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers' Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care while the state's top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action. (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi)

HOLYOKE, Mass. — Nearly 70 residents sickened with the coronavirus have died at a Massachusetts home for aging veterans, as state and federal officials try to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S. 

While the death toll at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care and the state’s top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action.

“It’s horrific,” Edward Lapointe, whose father-in-law lives at the home and had a mild case of the virus, said to The Associated Press (AP). “These guys never had a chance.”

Officials said Tuesday that 68 veteran residents who tested positive for the virus have died.  The AP reports another 83 residents and 81 staff members of the veterans' home have tested positive.

Credit: AP
In this March 31, 2020 photo, cleaners unwrap their protective gear as they leave the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass. Nearly 70 residents have died from the coronavirus at the central Massachusetts home for aging veterans, as state and federal officials try to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via AP, File)

According to AP, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has hired an outside attorney to conduct an investigation into the deaths. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is also investigating to determine “what went wrong at this facility and determine if legal action is warranted.”

The Mass. Dept. of Public Health reported 150 more people died Tuesday from COVID-19, and 1,840 more people have been confirmed positive. Statewide, there are a total of 58,302 people who have tested positive, and the death toll now stands at 3,153.

Massachusetts' death toll is the fourth highest among U.S. states, behind New York, New Jersey, and Michigan.

Gov. Baker extended the state's stay-at-home order on Tuesday to May 18. 

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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