Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that he has hired an attorney to investigate how the outbreak of COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home unfolded to result in the deaths of 13 veterans.
Mark W. Pearlstein, a former prosecutor for the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston, has been hired to conduct the investigation, Baker’s office announced.
“The investigation will focus both on the events inside the facility that led to the tragic deaths of veterans in the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and on management and organizational oversight of the COVID-19 response in the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
Baker on Tuesday promised to get to the bottom of what happened at the Holyoke facility, where 13 veterans have passed away since last week. Baker and his administration say the gravity of the situation at the Soldiers’ Home — the deaths and cases of the novel coronavirus — was not reported through the state’s chain of communication.
The superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, Bennett Walsh, was placed on administrative leave on Monday after the situation came to light.
Officials say at least six of the 13 residents who died at the home tested positive for COVID-19, with five results pending. One person tested negative, and another individual died prior to being tested. The state has deployed a clinical command team and the National Guard to the facility to stabilize the outbreak. All the surviving residents and staff members at the home are being tested for the novel coronavirus.