The Berkshire Eagle
With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.
MASKS & MONEY: Leave it to Wall Street to translate one of the country's pandemic cultural divisions (masks) into dollars and cents. The Washington Post reports that the investment bank Goldman Sachs has advised clients that greater use of face masks to reduce transmission of the coronavirus would help protect economic activity — and profits.
A team led by the bank's chief economist writes: "A face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP."
On Friday, the Texas governor changed course and ordered use of masks in most counties.
The Goldman Sachs economists make the point that use of masks allows businesses to operate and is far better for the economy than stay-at-home orders.
"We estimate that statewide mask mandates gradually raise the percentage of people who `always' or `frequently' wear masks by around 25 [percentage points] in the 30+ days after signing," the team wrote.
They note that while the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask use, there is no national mandate. Roughly 20 states — including Massachusetts, as of early May — have put varying forms of mandates in place. Compliance is about 80 percent in Massachusetts, the report found, citing surveys, compared to 40 percent in Arizona.
LEADING INDICATORS: The state Department of Public Health provides the following statistics daily as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Each provides a number and then a percentage change since April 15.
- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.8, down 94 percent.
- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 699, down 80 percent.
- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 5, down 76 percent.
- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 17, down 89 percent.
SICK ONCE, NOT NOW: Ninety percent of state residents who tested positive for COVID-19 since February have recovered, according to a weekly report from the DPH. Katie Lannan of the State House News Service reports: "The department releases figures each Wednesday afternoon showing how many people confirmed to have COVID-19 are isolated and how many have been released from isolation. People are counted as recovered and released from isolation after 21 days of illness or 21 days past the date of their positive. Of the 103,858 people with a test-confirmed COVID-19 case as of Wednesday, less than 3 percent — 2,799 people — were isolated. Another 7,902 have died, and the remaining 93,157 were released from isolation."
THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County lost another person to COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health said Friday, the first death since June 19. The toll is now 45 deaths. The number of confirmed and probable cases in the county rose by two to 602.
The DPH said the number of confirmed and probable deaths as of Friday statewide stood at 8,149, rising by 17. New cases for Massachusetts increased by 290 to 109,628.
The case tallies (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 372 (55); Hampshire, 976 (115); Hampden, 6,834 (662).
AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Friday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for one patient, not in intensive care. Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had no cases.
The COVID-19 patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, 13 cases, two in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, two cases, neither in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 20 cases, three in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, three cases, none in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, three cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases.
The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.
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