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I-Team: New COVID Outbreak At Chelsea Soldiers' Home, State Did Not Provide Second Booster

CHELSEA (CBS) - There is a new COVID outbreak at the Chelsea Soldiers' Home where more than 30 veterans died at the start of the pandemic. The I-Team has learned the state did not provide the CDC recommended second booster to veterans at the home.

Inside the state-run home, 13 residents have tested positive for COVID.

Laurie Mandeville Beaudette's father was one of 77 veterans who died of COVID at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, 38 residents died in Chelsea. Several investigations found the state failed to protect the veterans.

"Angry is probably my first reaction," said Mandeville Beaudette. "I just can't believe how irresponsible, they're being irresponsible with the lives of these veterans."

After the I-Team started asking questions about the booster shots, sources say the state opened a vaccine clinic Wednesday in Holyoke where recently two staff members tested positive.

Veterans advocate Steve Connor says after everything that went on the last two years, these veterans should have been the first ones to get the shots. "We know they are vulnerable and have health issues," Connor said. "It seems the battle never ends."

The CDC recommended older folks and those with compromised immune systems get the additional booster in late March. With cases rising many eligible Massachusetts residents got the shot. But it took the state nearly three weeks to make the shots available to veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home where so many lost their lives.

"It's just another mistake on their list of how they handled COVID-19 up there," Mandeville Beaudette said.

The Department of Veterans' Services says all Holyoke residents, and 99% of Chelsea veterans got the vaccine and first booster. The Holyoke Soldiers' Home is offering the second booster to eligible residents and staff. So far, 53 veteran residents (55.2%) have already received the second booster.

A second booster clinic will be held at the Chelsea Soldiers' Home on April 26.

Statement from the Department of Veterans' Services:

"Routine testing over the holiday weekend at the Soldiers' Home in Chelsea has identified several domiciliary residents who tested positive for COVID-19. Impacted residents are safely self-isolating and following all guidelines from the Center for Disease and Prevention and the Department of Public Health. Leadership and staff continue to prioritize resident and staff health and safety and are adhering to infection control protocols and maintaining best practices for the safety of veteran residents and staff, and have increased regular surveillance testing."

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