I-Team: Gov. Baker recounts admin’s response to Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Covid-19 outbreak


HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker is recounting his administration’s response in the hours and days after news broke that Covid-19 had taken hold at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

“The first I heard about it obviously was that phone call on Sunday night in March, late March when the lieutenant governor, Secretary Sudders, and I were all on the phone together, and Mayor Alex Morse reached out to the lieutenant governor,” said Gov. Baker.

Over the course of two months, 89 veterans would die, 74 of the dead testing positive for the virus. 84 employees would also test positive. The National Guard would be brought in to help with triage and testing.

Superintendent Bennett Walsh, who’s on administrative leave, maintains he was in constant contact with the state updating the staff of veteran services, the executive office of human services, and the department of public health.

During an interview on radio station WGBH News, Governor Baker didn’t have much to say about what was happening at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

“I’m not going to speak to these issues until I see the report because there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of talk about who said what to who,” said Gov. Baker. “And in the end documents and emails and interviews will answer a lot of these questions.”

Gov. Baker was asked twice during that interview if he had knowledge of what was happening at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, but he wouldn’t directly answer, only to say that he was shocked by what Mayor Alex Morse had told them.

The Baker administration has hired attorney Mark Pearlstein to conduct an independent investigation of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and the event that led up to the outbreak.

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