The Berkshire Eagle
With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.
FREE COVID-19 TESTS THIS WEEK: People who participated in large gatherings over the past few weeks, including protests and rallies, can get tested for COVID-19 free of charge from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at either of two pop-up testing sites in Berkshire County.
Preregistration is required and can be completed by calling the Berkshire Health Systems' COVID-19 Hotline at 855-262-5465.
Drive-thru testing tents will be up at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington. The Berkshire Medical Center tent is behind the Crane Center for Ambulatory Surgery with street access from Seymour Street. The Fairview tent is located at 10 Maple Ave., along the east side of the outpatient rehabilitation facility.
The free service is part of Gov. Charlie Baker's initiative to administer widespread testing following demonstrations that took place in the wake of George Floyd's May 25 killing by a Minneapolis police officer and other activities that coincided with the state lifting restrictions as part of the reopening.
Large protests have been held at sites in the Berkshires, including Pittsfield, Great Barrington, North Adams and Williamstown.
Fifty testing sites will be open across the state. Baker urged anyone who has participated in a large gathering to get tested, even if they're asymptomatic.
THE NUMBERS: The state Department of Public Health has adjusted the total of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Berkshire County, down from 580 as of Saturday, to 579. No new deaths were reported Monday in the county, leaving the toll at 42.
The DPH said the number of confirmed and probable deaths statewide rose by 23 to 7,647. New cases for Massachusetts climbed by 87 to 105,690.
The case counts in neighboring counties: Franklin, 353; Hampshire, 926; Hampden, 6,489.
SWITCH ON MASK PROTOCOL: Last week, the Food & Drug Administration reversed its March guidance that respirators — including N95s and other face masks — could be reused if decontaminated. Well, no.
Citing new findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the FDA now advises against decontamination and reuse of masks with exhalation valves. The agencies flagged devices manufactured in China that vary in design and performance.
Decontamination gained ground as a way to address shortages of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the FDA only recommends decontamination for non-cellulose N95 respirators — and when new and approved respirators aren't available.
The change struck a chord with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, whose leaders have said PPE decontamination systems pose more risk than reward. The union represents registered nurses at Berkshire Medical Center.
Donna Kelly-Williams, the MNA president, called mask decontamination a "dangerous dream" by government officials and health care executives.
TIPPING THE HAT: Know of someone who is going above and beyond to help others during the pandemic? We'd like to help get them the recognition they deserve. Send a short informal nomination to us at The Checkup by emailing email@example.com.
AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Monday, neither Berkshire Medical Center nor Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had any cases of COVID-19.The confirmed and suspected case count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, 11 cases, four in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, six cases, none in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 29 cases, five in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, nine cases, one in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, three cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases.
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