HAMPDEN COUNTY

Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

This week, the Springfield Police Department reinstated five officers who face perjury charges for allegedly trying to cover up a 2015 fight outside a city bar involving off-duty officers. 

Pastor Sam Saylor of Gardner Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Springfield, Massachusetts, speaks in a Facebook video.
Gardner Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church / Screenshot / Facebook

Virtual platforms have become a gathering place for many religious groups in New England during the coronavirus pandemic. Faith leaders are tweaking the experience to bring a sense of human contact or address community needs.

A N95 respirator mask.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Massachusetts has more than 30,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections as of Thursday, one of the highest state totals in the country, as Gov. Charlie Baker said the peak demand on hospitals is approaching fast.

 At the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Madame Tricot (Dominique Kaehler Schweizer)'s "A Selection of Vegetables 2019." The hand-knitted wool art is part of the exhibit "Savor," now only online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Toni Hafkenscheid

Like so many places where people gather, museums are closed in the COVID-19 pandemic and people have lost their jobs. Around New England, the big museums are taking a variety of approaches to engage would-be visitors and donors as they try to envision the future. 

The new president of MGM Springfield, Chris Kelley, helps unloading the food the casino donated to Open Pantry after regulators ordered the resort closed.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

As expected, casino revenue plunged in Massachusetts in March, according to the latest report from state gambling regulators.

The COVID-19 drive-through testing station at Lawrence General Hospital.
Robbin Lubbock / WBUR

A researcher at MIT projects three counties in western Massachusetts have seen the peak in daily new cases of the novel coronavirus, while a fourth will see the top in about a week.

FBI investigators on scene at Lori Lane in East Longmeadow, Mass., on April 15, 2020.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

An East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, man is accused of trying to blow up a Jewish assisted-living residence in Longmeadow.

As the coronavirus continues to ravage links in the supply chain, food banks across the state are struggling to feed hungry families while keeping staff and volunteers safe. But a new partnership between the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and local farmers promises to increase access to fresh, organic produce at a time when it’s needed most.

Twenty-one residents have died from COVID-19 at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home and the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation senior living facility in Longmeadow, part of the JGS Lifecare health care system, the facility announced in a letter late Friday night.

Another 93 residents and 43 staff members tested positive for the virus, with over half of the 180 residents and 84 staff tested.

Suspended Superintendent Says He Flagged Problems At Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Apr 9, 2020
Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh spoke at the 2020 Iwo Jima Day ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
Chris Van Buskirk / State House News Service

The suspended superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, where more than two dozen veterans have died amid a coronavirus outbreak, pushed back Thursday on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's suggestion that the home did not properly inform his administration about the issues there.

Massachusetts Attorney General Will Also Investigate Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Apr 9, 2020
Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Chelsie Field / WBUR

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launched her own investigation Wednesday into the state-run Holyoke Soldiers' Home, where at least 25 veterans have died since late March amid an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Teachers outside the Boland Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts, prepare to hand out laptops on April 6, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Since Governor Charlie Baker ordered Massachusetts schools closed in mid-March, teachers and parents have been grappling with educating students at home.

The Springfield Public Schools have now started handing out more than 9,000 laptops to make remote learning easier.

Falasha Paul of Springfield, Massachusetts, after the home birth of her daughter in January 2020.
Submitted / Jharna Harvey-Ahmei

COVID-19 is upending many aspects of life, including the beginning of it.

In the two years that 99-year-old John MacKay has lived at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, one of his family members has talked to or seen him every day.

Two employees of the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke reach out to one another, but don't touch, to say goodbye on March 31, 2020.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

This week, the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home became clearer. 

Mass. Gaming Commission Keeps Casinos Shuttered Until May 4

Apr 3, 2020
A quiet MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 21.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

It will be at least another month before casino gambling starts back up in Massachusetts.

To keep its veterans safe as the coronavirus swept across the U.S., the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke started making big changes in mid-March. Like many other long-term care centers for seniors, the state-run facility focused on disinfecting surfaces and restricting outside visitors. It also started screening staff for symptoms.

But its efforts to prevent infection didn’t work; in mid-March, an elderly man in the memory care unit began showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on March 31, 2020.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

Two labor unions representing workers at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home said requests for access to more personal protective gear were denied by management as a deadly COVID-19 outbreak began in the state-run facility for veterans.

A day after health officials announced 11 deaths in a coronavirus outbreak at a state-run veterans home, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said Soldiers’ Home staff did not notify city or state officials last week after residents had died.

Storrow Drive in Boston, Massachusetts.
Phil Roeder / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder

Massachusetts drivers caught with cellphones in their hands are supposed to start getting tickets Wednesday, but police say the new coronavirus could afffect how strictly a new law is enforced.

Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Chelsie Field / WBUR

As many as 11 residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home have died in recent days — potentially all from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

That’s led to an abrupt change of leadership at the residential, nursing and outpatient facility for veterans run by the state of Massachusetts. 

UPDATE: Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said Tuesday morning that all employees and veterans at the Soldiers’ Home have now been tested for coronavirus and await results.


Eleven veteran residents have died during a coronavirus outbreak at Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, state health officials confirmed in an email Monday. Eleven other residents and five employees have confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 25 additional residents are waiting for test results.

Danilo Ferro assists a student in his eighth-grade special education math class at Amherst Regional Middle School.
Ben James / NEPR

Depending on their district and available technology, students find themselves with varying levels of daily work to do from home while schools are closed. The disruption in western Massachusetts has no doubt complicated efforts to address a major inequity.

Amina Meckel-Sam, at left, and Pearl Shread are juniors at Northampton High School. They co-lead the Students of Color Alliance.
Ben James / NEPR

Many educators want Massachusetts public schools — closed for now to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus — to be a leveling force, improving outcomes for students of color. But inequities in school services can be a barrier to student success.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette is based in Northampton, Mass.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The COVID-19 outbreak is taking its toll on some newspapers in New England. Already-sagging advertising revenues have dipped even more. That’s led to layoffs and other cuts.

Days before Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close, some already had.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered non-essential businesses in the state to shut their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. But what is considered “essential” by the state could change.

Norman Pacheco is a special education teacher at Holyoke STEM Academy. "We need more teachers of color. We need more administrators of color. We need kids of color to see that there is a future beyond the ends of their noses," he says.
Ben James / NEPR

Public schools in Massachusetts are closed for at least the next two weeks, very likely longer. But when they do reopen, one persistent problem will remain: a shortage of teachers and administrators of color.

A memorial in Ireland for the victims of the Doolough Tragedy, an event during the Irish Potato Famine.
Sludge G / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/sludgeulper

Americans have come to expect the opportunity to provide donations and other assistance when natural disasters strike. But the humanitarian concept was entirely new during what came to be known as the Irish Potato Famine. 

Homemade masks sewn by Northampton, Mass., clothing-maker Caitlin Carvalho, who is donating them to hospitals and other organizations.
Courtesy of Caitlin Carvalho

As President Trump has resisted using the full range of his executive powers to address the shortage in medical supplies like masks, regular citizens across the country are offering to hand-sew them at home and donate them to hospitals and other institutions. 

The Williamsburg Market has had twice the amount of business than usual. Sean Mallari and Steve Smith, who just bought the business this month, unpack a recent delivery that was much bigger than usual.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

While the goal of closing schools and businesses is to slow the spread of COVID-19, the impact on employment has been swift in Massachusetts.  

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