(Reuters) – Two people were indicted for their alleged role in a COVID-19 outbreak at a Massachusetts veterans’ home that contributed to the deaths of at least 76 residents, the state’s attorney general announced on Friday.
A grand jury on Thursday indicted superintendent Bennett Walsh and David Clinton, the former medical director of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, on charges of criminal neglect related to their work at the facility.
“We allege that the actions of these defendants during the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility put veterans at higher risk of infection and death and warrant criminal charges,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.
Healey said the charges stem from the two individuals’ roles in decision-making at the home that led to the consolidation of two dementia units into one.
The move placed symptomatic residents, including some who had tested positive for the coronavirus, and asymptomatic residents in close proximity,” increasing the exposure of asymptomatic veterans to the virus,” officials said.
“We believe this is the first criminal case in the country brought against those involved in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Healey told a news conference.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, additional reporting by Peter Szekely, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)