Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Dispelling Dangerous Myths About COVID-19

May 21, 2020
Some Bhutanese immigrants believe drinking liquor can protect them from COVID-19.
Little Visuals / Creative Commons

I can read and write English. But many of my fellow Bhutanese refugees can’t. 

John Velis of Westfield in a file photo.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Democrats claimed victory in two Massachusetts special elections Tuesday, seizing state Senate seats that had long been held by Republicans in races that party chair Gus Bickford said reflected a rejection of President Donald Trump's politics.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski issued a directive that closed, until further notice as of March 17, all diocesan churches and chapels in response to COVID-19.
Anne-Gerard Flynn / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Governor Charlie Baker has unveiled his administration's multipart plan to restart the Massachusetts economy. Included in the first phase, along with manufacturing and construction projects, are houses of worship. They are now allowed to reopen within certain guidelines, but not all are planning to do so. 

Prior times: the 2016 High School of Commerce graduation in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang "Leon" Nguyen / The Republican / MassLive.com/photos

Springfield, Massachusetts, has decided to let high school graduates walk across an actual stage to receive their diploma, despite COVID-19 restrictions. But it will still be far from the typical ceremony.

A visitor used hand sanitizer prior to the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce Outlook luncheon at the MassMutual Center on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has said he'll unveil a reopening plan next week for the state's economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Usually attracting tens of thousands of visitors, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets in May 2020 were canceled because of COVID-19.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / File photo / The Republican / MassLive.com/photos

Like so many events this spring in Massachusetts and around New England, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets were canceled for May because of the pandemic. For the businesses that make the more than 50-year-old show come to life, it's a deep hit, and some dealers are salvaging what they can. 

In 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature decided the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes should be overseen by someone with at least five years of health care management experience, so lawmakers created a new position: an executive director of veterans’ homes and housing.

The polling place at Falcetti Towers in Holyoke, Mass.
File photo / Sam Hudzik / NEPR

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a special election for a state Senate seat covering 11 western Massachusetts communities will be held next week. Democratic State Rep. John Velis and businessman John Cain, a Republican, are on the ballot.

The MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.
HOANG 'LEON' NGUYEN / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

The operators of MGM Springfield are warning Massachusetts labor officials they may have to layoff up to almost 1,900 employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Springfield Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris at a briefing on the coronavirus.
Douglas Hook / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Hampden County has the sixth highest rate in Massachusetts for confirmed COVID-19 cases. But it has the highest rate of deaths.

Saint Michael's is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic  Diocese of Springfield. It is the city's oldest Catholic church.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese and three western Massachusetts prosecutors have reached a deal on how the church will report sexual abuse allegations.

A hand holds a paper airplane.
Kalvis / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/hgz

One western Massachusetts resident who recently died from COVID-19 is Fran Slasinski of Westfield. 

Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard talk with residents of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
Army Spc. Samuel D. Keenan / Massachusetts National Guard

As COVID-19 continues to spread — and take lives — at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers' Home, more information has emerged on outbreak preparations behind the scenes. 

A high school sports banquet at The Log Cabin in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 2017.
Chris Marion / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The federal government opened up applications for another round of financial relief for small businesses on Monday morning. Several western Massachusetts companies said they have applied but aren’t confident they will receive money.

A health care worker places a cotton swab into a vile after taking a sample from someone being tested for COVID-19 last month at a drive-through testing area at Somerville Hospital.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Western Massachusetts health care providers say they have much better access to COVID-19 testing than a month ago, but ideally, they would like even more.

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, at podium, talks about the impact of court-ordered early releases due to COVID-19, while Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni looks on.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Some western Massachusetts sheriffs said this week that with more inmates being released early due to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities, some have had trouble once they were out of jail. 

Hampden County Jail in Ludlow, Massachusetts.
File photo / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Some western Massachusetts sheriffs said people being released early from jail amid the COVID-19 pandemic are having difficulty adjusting after being let go.

A PVTA bus makes a stop at a Stop and Shop supermarket.
MTA3306 / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/87549811@N03

The union representing some Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus drivers said five of its members have come down with COVID-19.

Weldon Long with his son, Mike, in the 1960s.
Courtesy Mike Long

One of the veterans from the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home who died in recent days of COVID-19 was Weldon Marion Long, 82.

John Paradis speaks at the Northampton Veterans Day memorial in 2016.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

In the past month, 52 residents of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home have died, testing positive for COVID-19. The quick spread of the coronavirus at the state-run facility for veterans has sparked three investigationsmost recently by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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

The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke reported its first positive case of the coronavirus on March 22. Four weeks later, 63 veterans have died; 52 of them had confirmed cases of COVID-19.

As chief physician executive at Baystate Health in Springfield, Dr. Andrew Artenstein says he rarely gets involved in the purchase of protective equipment like masks. But that was before the coronavirus pandemic.

In a New England Journal of Medicine article published on Friday, Artenstein describes the lengths he and other hospital staff went to recently in order to secure a shipment of masks.

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.