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Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard walk down one of the halls of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass., on April 1, 2020.

Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard walk down one of the halls of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass., on April 1, 2020. (Samuel Keenan/U.S. Army)

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HOLYOKE, Mass (Tribune News Service) —  FEMA will grant the Massachusetts National Guard more than $5 million for the cost of providing medical staff and setting up temporary hospitals to handle COVID patients between March and September 2020.

That includes, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency news release Friday, the Guard’s response to the Holyoke Soldiers Home where a COVID outbreak in early 2020 cost 84 elderly veterans their lives. It was the largest outbreak of its kind in the country.

The guard also planned, coordinated, and performed large scale mobile COVID-19 sample collection; and to provide care at long-term care facilities, rest homes, and assisted living facilities and warehoused and distributed personal protective equipment.

The Guard ran a COVID testing site at the Big E in the first few months of the pandemic with Guard members in military HAZMAT suits working on the Avenue of the States usually filled with festive fairgoers.

“ FEMA is pleased to be able to assist the Massachusetts National Guard with these costs,” said FEMA Region 1 Regional Administrator Lori Ehrlich in a news release. “Providing resources for our partners on the front lines of the pandemic fight is critical to their success, and our success as a nation.”

Also Friday, FEMA announced an additional $1 million to reimburse Baystate Medical Center in Springfield for the costs of steps taken to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This $1,024,676 Public Assistance grant will reimburse the 716-bed hospital for the cost of buying personal protective equipment (PPE) and contracting for other needed services between April 2020 and May 2022.

Previously, FEMA had announced two grants totaling more than $13 million to Baystate for COVID equipment and personnel costs.

Also on Friday, FEMA announced a separate $1.7 million to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for the costs of operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(c)2022 The Republican, Springfield, Mass.

Visit The Republican, Springfield, Mass. at www.masslive.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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