Massachusetts again opening COVID-19 recovery sites as cases surge

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts public health officials are planning to open another facility to help house residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need a safe and therapeutic space to recover while isolating from others.

Early in the pandemic, the state established a network of hotels for individuals who lived in housing situations that made it difficult for them to safely isolate while recovering from the disease — including homeless individuals, people who live in group housing and residents who live with someone who is at high risk.

The recovery sites ended up serving more than 900 individuals from Boston to Pittsfield, according to Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.

Even as the need vastly decreased during the summer, the state maintained a single location in Everett.

Now as Massachusetts experiences another surge in COVID-19 cases, the state is again expanding the program. Last week a facility opened in Taunton and next week a third location will open in Pittsfield, Sudders said Tuesday at press conference.

Over the weekend, the existing sites in Everett and Taunton served 122 people, she said.

The state is prepared to launch additional sites as needed, Sudders added.

Three staff members and a veteran resident of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, who has been living in a satellite unit, have all tested positive for COVID-19, state officials said.

The three staff members do not provide direct care or interact closely with residents of the state-run facility for aging and ill veterans, state public health authorities told Masslive.com on Tuesday.

They tested positive following routine testing which was instituted after a coronavirus outbreak in the spring took the lives of 76 veterans at the facility. Two former top administrators at the facility have pleaded not guilty to criminal neglect charges.

The resident who tested positive was moved to Holyoke Medical Center in a special unit designed to protect residents who were not believed to be infected in the outbreak. The veteran was exhibiting symptoms of the disease and has been isolated and is being treated, officials said.

All in-person visitation has been suspended since November 20.

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