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The Checkup: County sees 203 new COVID-19 cases in past week, nearly twice previous week's total

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The risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low in Berkshire County, though cases are ticking up.

A little more than a week ago, you could count the number of new cases in Pittsfield, in a running 14-day average, on one hand. Now you need two.

We reported last week in the Checkup that the new case rate had just about doubled for the county, when cases were rising here more rapidly that in the state as a whole. That appears to be continuing, based on the latest state Department of Public Health data.

But as my colleague Francesca Paris noted, “vaccines and high infection rates from the original strain of omicron have granted the country significant protection.”

As of Friday, there were 44 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County. In the past week, the county saw 203 new cases, for a pandemic total of 23,333. In the past two weeks, the county saw 314 new cases, according to state Department of Public Health data, which does not include positives detected through at-home testing.

Berkshire Health Systems had three hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of its last update on Wednesday. BMC reports that it has had eight patients with COVID-19 in the past week.

There was one new death reported as of Friday in Berkshire County, and two in the past two weeks, for a pandemic total of 371.

Berkshire County is at low risk under the community COVID-19 levels set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which weigh hospitalization rates as well as new case counts. CDC guidelines recommend talking to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions, if you are at high risk for severe illness.

Across the state, there were 1,637 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday. The state had 231 hospitalized patients, with two new deaths reported. To date, 19,030 people in Massachusetts have died of COVID-19.

Statewide, the seven-day test positivity rate was 2.93 percent.

For Berkshire County, the 14-day test positivity rate, as of Thursday, was 2.83 percent. For the four largest communities in Berkshire County, these were the 14-day positivity rates reported by the DPH: Adams, 3.12 percent; Great Barrington, 2.3 percent; Pittsfield, 3.39 percent; North Adams, 1.99 percent.

Across Massachusetts, 76.3 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to state data. County-level vaccination rates are reported weekly, and 74 percent of Berkshire County residents were vaccinated fully as of last week. Among those 12 and older, 92 percent have received at least one dose of vaccine. For the whole county population, 86 percent have received at least one dose.

TESTING SITES: You can get tests for COVID-19 at the following three locations:

• Pittsfield – 505 East St., St Luke’s Square, adjacent to BHS Urgent Care – Open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• North Adams – 98 Church St., next to the North Adams Library – Open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Great Barrington – 475 Main St., next to the Great Barrington Police Department – Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to noon.

Appointments for testing are required at all locations. Call 855-262-5465 or visit berkshirepatientportal.com. The hotline is typically open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

VACCINE ACCESS: The Berkshire Health Systems testing centers also provide vaccine, including boosters. Vaccine appointments can be made by calling the hotline at 855-262-5465 or visiting the Berkshire Patient Portal. As of late January, appointments have been readily available without a long wait.

Community Health Programs posts the schedule for its mobile vaccination van at chpberkshires.org/mobile. Vaccines are available with no appointment necessary. For information call 413-528-0457.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com

and 413-588-8341.

Managing editor for innovation

Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.

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