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Nearly 70 dead in coronavirus outbreak at US veterans home


Nearly 70 residents sickened with coronavirus have died at a home for ageing veterans in Massachusetts state as officials attempt to determine what went wrong within the deadliest known outbreak at a long-term care facility within the us.

While the price at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers' Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical aid, and also the state's top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring proceeding.

"It's horrific," said Edward Lapointe, whose father-in-law lives at the house and had a gentle case of the virus. "These guys never had an opportunity."

Sixty-eight veteran residents who tested positive for the virus have died, officials said on Tuesday, and it's not known whether another one who died had COVID-19. Another 82 residents and 81 employees have tested positive.

The home's superintendent, who has been placed on administrative leave, defended his response and accused state officials of falsely claiming they were unaware of the scope of the matter there.

The superintendent, Bennett Walsh, said earlier this month state officials knew the house was in "crisis mode" when it came to staffing shortages and were notified early and sometimes about the contagion at the ability.

Staffing problems that plagued the house for years contributed to the virus spreading like wildfire, said Joan Miller, a nurse who works there.

Because staffing was so tight, employees from one unit were constantly moving to other units to assist out - and bringing their germs with them, she said.

At one point, a unit was finish off because there wasn't enough staff to control it, and people veterans were moved into close quarters in other parts of the building, she said.

"Veterans were on top of every other," she said. "We didn't know who was positive and who was negative and so they grouped people together which really exacerbated it even more," said Miller, who spoke through a mask during a possibility from her job at the ability.

"That's when it really blew up," she said.

The situation is now "somewhat contained" because there are so few veterans living there, Miller said.

There were nearly 230 residents living at the house in late March and only about 100 remained on Monday, The Boston Globe reported.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, like fever and cough, that clear up in two to a few weeks. For some, especially older adults and also the infirm, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia.

Beth Lapointe said her father's roommate tested positive for the virus in March - and later died - but her father was initially denied a test because he didn't show any symptoms. because the virus spread, relations were kept within the dark about what was occurring inside, she said.

"Every day i might ask different people, 'What's occurring in there?' and that i would never get information," she said.

Governor Charlie Baker's administration has hired an outdoor lawyer to conduct an investigation into the deaths.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is additionally investigating to see "what went wrong at this facility and determine if proceeding is warranted".

The US attorney's office in Massachusetts and also the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division are looking into whether the house violated residents' rights by failing to produce them with proper medical aid.

The price at the house appears to be the biggest at a long-term care facility within the US, analysts said.

"It's also symbolic of how unprepared many nursing facilities are," said Dr Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of future Care Medicine.

"Geriatricians and experts in long-term care medicine were sounding alarms at the start of March and we've essentially been ignored by everyone - federal, state, government and also the rest home industry," he said.

There is currently no official count of rest home deaths across the country. The national has only recently required the nation's quite 15,000 nursing homes to start out reporting numbers of confirmed and presumed deaths and infections, but it's not yet clear when that count are going to be published.

In the meantime, The Associated Press agency has been compiling its own tally from state health departments and media reports, finding a minimum of 13,762 deaths from outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country.

But that's also likely an undercount because only about half the states are currently reporting rest home deaths and not all count people who died without ever being tested for COVID-19.

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