Two former leaders of a Massachusetts home for aging veterans have been indicted in connection with the deaths of nearly 80 people infected with the coronavirus. Former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director David Clinton were indicted by a grand jury, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told reporters.
Each is charged with 10 counts, five counts of criminal neglect and five counts of serious bodily injury.
The charges come three months after an independent report said that “utterly baffling” decisions made by Walsh and other administrators caused the virus to spread throughout the home. The first veteran tested positive March 17. Although he had shown symptoms for weeks, staff did not isolate him until his test came back positive. Before receiving the positive test, staff allowed him to remain with three roommates, and spend time in a common area. Seventy-six veterans have died from coronavirus at the facility.
When asked why leaders combined residents of two dementia units, the chief nursing officer said, “it didn’t matter because (the veterans) were all exposed anyway and there was not enough staff to cover both units,” investigators said.
The report said that as the virus began to spread, leadership neglected to implement protocols to stop the spread and instead prepared for the deaths of residents by ordering more than a dozen additional body bags and ordering a refrigerated truck to hold bodies that exceeded the home’s morgue capacity.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
According to a study published by medical journal The Lancet, less than 10% of Americans had COVID-19 antibodies as of July.
“This research clearly confirms that despite high rates of COVID-19 in the United States, the number of people with antibodies is still low and we haven’t come close to achieving herd immunity,” said study author and professor of medicine at Stanford University Dr. Julie Parsonnet.
Health experts say some level of “herd immunity” — when enough of the population has immunity that the virus can no longer spread effectively — will not be reached until a large percentage of people have access to a coronavirus vaccine.
Researchers used data from dialysis patients, which they say represent an ideal population for the study because these patients undergo routine blood draws monthly.
Researchers found that residents of mostly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods were two to four times more likely to test positive for antibodies. People living in lower-income areas were two times more likely, and people living in densely populated areas were ten times more likely.
During an Instagram Live conversation, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said daily meetings of the White House Coronavirus Task Force have stopped and the White House has begun to focus more heavily on the economy.
Meetings of the group working to manage the pandemic in the U.S. have been reduced to occurrences of once or twice a week, at the most. He added that the Task Force has a “good level of interaction” with the Vice President Mike Pence.
During a Sunday interview with CNN’s “State of the Union”, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism about renewed talks about a new stimulus package. Pelosi announced Democrats are currently working on their latest stimulus proposal, with a price tag of around $2.2 trillion dollars. The proposal includes additional aid for unemployment and direct payments to Americans affected by the pandemic.
The Trump administration has suggested it will not consider a package price tag above $1.5 trillion, meaning the two sides still have much negotiating to do.
Over the weekend, New York state recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day. Of the nearly 100,000 tests taken in the state, 1,005 came back positive, representing one percent of the total tests. This is the first time since June that New York had a daily number that high.
In New York City, cases have increased in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens where many private religious schools opened for in-person classes in early September. Public schools in the city are set to reopen this week.
A coronavirus survey in Minnesota was stopped suddenly after state health officials reported receiving racial and ethnic slurs in the city of Eitzen. The city, located in southern Minnesota near the Iowa border, denies the claims.
“A door-to-door Covid-19 testing survey has been halted due to multiple incidents in outstate Minnesota of residents intimidating and shouting racial and ethnic slurs at state and federal public health survey team,” the Minnesota Department of Health tweeted.
The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) survey is “a voluntary, in-person survey to understand the effect Covid-19 is having on Minnesota communities,” the MDH website says.
A Maryland man will be serving jail time after hosting parties at his home that violated the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
Shawn Marshall Myers, 42, was sentenced to one year in jail and fined $5,000 after he was arrested in March after having two parties at his home in Hughesville, located in southern Maryland. Each party had at least 50 people in attendance. During that time, Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency order prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people.
Police were called to the residence twice in one week. Myers was asked to shut down the party but refused. He will be on three years unsupervised probation after serving one year in jail.