With a mandate now in place, more Berkshire Health Systems employees are getting vaccinated.
About 90 percent of hospital system employees have been vaccinated, according to BHS. Before the mandatory vaccination policy, which was announced this month, the rate had plateaued at about 80 percent.
“We’re very proud of the tremendous accomplishments of our BHS team since the beginning of the pandemic 15 months ago,” David Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems, said in a news release. “Our vaccination rate is just one more indication of our team’s commitment to caring for our community.”
Phelps also said that “many employees” got vaccinated after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine.
The hospital system has set a deadline of Oct. 1 for employees to be vaccinated fully, with specific religious and medical exemptions in place.
The hospital system’s announcement comes as cases continue to climb in Massachusetts and the Berkshires. The seven-day rolling average in Berkshire County has reached 28 new cases each day, on par with case counts that the county posted in mid-November 2020.
KEY STATS: Berkshire County saw two new COVID-19 deaths in the past week. To date, the county has 303 reported deaths. The confirmed case count rose by 196 over the past week, to 7,267. The most recent 14-day test positivity rate reported for the county was 2.53 percent, as of last Aug. 21.
STATE PICTURE: The state Department of Public Health said 42 new confirmed deaths were reported in the past week, pushing the statewide total to 17,847 as of Thursday. Over the past week, confirmed cases rose by 9,409, to 703,961.
VACCINATIONS: According to the state’s latest report, 72 percent of Berkshire County residents have received at least one shot and 63 percent are vaccinated fully.
Note that this data, while the best available estimate, still might not accurately reflect the county’s vaccination rates for several reasons.
Part-time residents who moved to the county during the pandemic, or who left and received their shot elsewhere, might be artificially raising or lowering the rate. People who got vaccinated in other states are not counted in the data. The rates provided by the state also rely on census estimates, rather than new census data.
Town-by-town rates provided by the state also are inaccurate in many cases, since the state collects that data by ZIP code, and many Berkshire County municipalities share ZIP codes.
MASK UP, MASS: All of Massachusetts remains in the red, so to speak, from the perspective of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Friday, all counties were rated at a “high” level of community transmission, except for Franklin County, which was one step down, at “substantial” transmission. CDC guidelines recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors at substantial or high transmission.
Across the country, more than 92 percent of counties are ranked at high transmission.
COMMUNITY DATA: Here are this week’s figures from the DPH on confirmed coronavirus cases by city and town. In alphabetical order, this lists all Berkshire County communities. The first number is the total number of cases during the pandemic. The second is the number of new cases in the past 14 days.
Adams: 406; 31
Alford: Fewer than 5; 0
Becket: 77; fewer than 5
Cheshire: 147; 7
Clarksburg: 52; fewer than 5
Dalton: 327; 21
Egremont: 23; fewer than 5
Florida: 19; 0
Great Barrington: 506; 16
Hancock: 18; 0
Hinsdale: 75; fewer than 5
Lanesborough: 123; fewer than 5
Lee: 361; 19
Lenox: 267; 7
Monterey: 27; fewer than 5
Mount Washington: 6; 0
New Ashford: Fewer than 5; 0
New Marlborough: 28; fewer than 5
North Adams: 715; 42
Otis: 69; fewer than 5
Peru: 12; 0
Pittsfield: 3,225; 127
Richmond: 43; fewer than 5
Sandisfield: 41; 0
Savoy: 21; fewer than 5
Sheffield: 127; fewer than 5
Stockbridge: 80; fewer than 5
Tyringham: 9; fewer than 5
Washington: 12; fewer than 5
West Stockbridge: 47; 0
Williamstown: 305; fewer than 5
Windsor: 25; 0
WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 215,085,787, with 4,480,877 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 38,481,005 cases and 634,349 deaths.
Across the world, more than 5.1 billion vaccine doses have been administered, Johns Hopkins reports. More than 364 million of those have been administered in the U.S.
HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for eight COVID-19 patients as of Friday. Statewide, 572 people are hospitalized, 149 are in intensive care units and 78 are on ventilators.
COVID-19 VACCINES: For information on vaccines and to schedule an appointment, visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org.
Appointments now are available seven days a week for walk-ins at the testing sites at 505 East St. in Pittsfield and 98 Church St. in North Adams. Vaccines are available from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Pittsfield and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in North Adams.
In South County, Fairview Hospital is administering vaccinations on-site at the hospital from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
TESTING: “Stop the Spread” testing sites are open at three Berkshire Health Systems locations. Tests will be conducted for any reason, with the state picking up the cost. To schedule a test, call the toll-free hotline, 855-262-5465, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Locations are: Pittsfield, 505 East St., St Luke’s Square, adjacent to BHS Urgent Care Center; North Adams, 98 Church St., next to the city library; Great Barrington: 475 Main St. Tests also can be obtained through CVS by filling out a form online.
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