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Pittsfield is back in the 'red' zone for COVID cases as Thanksgiving holiday begins

Pittsfield City Hall exterior

Pittsfield has recorded 499 cases of COVID-19 this month — 342 of them in the past two weeks. “This is certainly discouraging because we’ve all worked so hard to keep moving forward in the right direction," Mayor Linda Tyer said in a release. "But this is certainly not the time for us to give up."

PITTSFIELD — The city is back on the state’s “red” list of communities with high risk for coronavirus transmission.

The 14-day average daily case rate per 100,000 reached 51.98 Tuesday, and the city’s 14-day testing positivity rate reached 5.1 percent.

The state classifies cities of Pittsfield’s size — cities with populations of 10,000 to 50,000 — as red sites for transmission if they have a 14-day average case rate of 10 or more cases per 100,000 and a 14-day average testing positivity rate of 5 percent or more.

Pittsfield hasn’t been classified as a red community since January. The city’s case rate was twice that of the state average daily rate of 23 per 100,000, which previously was reported Nov. 18.

The increase in cases comes almost three weeks since the city’s Board of Health voted unanimously to issue a mask directive in order to slow the spread of the virus through the city.

“This is certainly discouraging because we’ve all worked so hard to keep moving forward in the right direction,” Mayor Linda Tyer said in a release. “But this is certainly not the time for us to give up. The most important thing that we can all do is to keep our schools open.”

Since the start of the month, the city has reported 499 new coronavirus cases — 342 of those cases in the past two weeks.

Pittsfield Public Schools officials closed the second grade at Morningside Community School on Nov. 18, after 15 second graders and two staff members working with the grade tested positive for COVID-19 in a week.

The district reported 68 active student cases and eight active staff cases throughout all its schools Tuesday — about half those cases were from the Morningside school community.

Tyer convened her COVID-19 Task Force on Tuesday to assess how the city should proceed as cases rise ahead of several major holidays. The task force advised continued mask-wearing, hand-washing, social distancing and limiting the number of gatherings with people outside your household.

The seven-person team of Pittsfield's Public Health Department is seeing a shift in the public's response to their efforts to track the coronavirus. 

"Compared to the first time around, we're getting a lot of pushback as far as cooperation goes," Pittsfield Public Health Nurse Manager Kayla Donnelly said. "Some people just won't even answer us. Some people will hang up on us or — and I'm just going to come out and say — people are verbally abusive towards us a lot."

City officials continued to encourage vaccinations for residents 5 and older and vaccine boosters for those who are six months out from their last vaccine.

The city also reported that contact tracers continue to have “little to no cooperation” with their community tracing efforts. In the release issued Tuesday, officials asked that residents answer phone calls from contact tracers and follow their advice on distancing and quarantining.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or

413-496-6149.

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