KEY POINTS

  • 11 veteran residents of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home died, 5 of which tested positive for COVID-19
  • Test results of the other five are still pending, while the 11th resident was "unknown"
  • 11 other residents and five staff members also tested positive for COVID-19

11 residents of a veterans center in Massachusetts died Monday, including five who tested positive for COVID-19, a state official said.

Anthony Preston, spokesperson of the Department of Veterans Services confirmed the report, adding that test results of the five who died at Holyoke Soldiers' Home are still pending, while the result of the 11th resident was “unknown.”

At the same time, Preston told 22News that 11 other veteran residents and five of its staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Veterans line up for the Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down at the VA Medical Center in Washington, January 23, 2010. Veterans line up for the Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down at the VA Medical Center in Washington, January 23, 2010. The annual event brings together community agencies to provide services such as health screenings, housing and employment counseling, and psychosocial services to eligible homeless veterans. Photo: REUTERS

They are also waiting for the test results of 25 more residents, while those who have tested positive or awaiting for their results have been isolated. Staff members who had contact with were advised to quarantine “until they are asymptomatic,” he added.

Superintendent Bennett Walsh was placed on paid administrative leave the same day the deaths were announced. He will be replaced by Western Massachusetts Hospitals Chief Executive Officer Val Liptak, according to NBC News, citing a statement from Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai.

An “onsite clinical command team” led by healthcare experts was also initiated to respond to the outbreak, the outlet added.

Governor Charlie Baker meanwhile expressed his sympathy on the recent tragedy in a tweet.

“I am heartbroken by today's news. The loss of these residents to COVID-19 is a shuddering loss for us all,” Baker said.

The Department of Veterans Services confirmed last week that a resident at the Soldiers' Home had tested positive for COVID-19.

Communications and Volunteer Programs Director Debra Foley then streamlined precautionary measures in the facility, including visitor restrictions, temperature check of employees and residents, adding of hand sanitation stations and giving Personal Protective Equipment to its staff, among others, said 22News.