Clouds have gathered over that worry-free, vaccinated summer we were dreaming of.
The delta variant is everywhere, accounting for some 83 percent of cases nationwide. Cases are skyrocketing in Massachusetts, up 351 percent over the last two weeks. And Provincetown has seen a spate of breakthrough infections – positive tests in vaccinated people.
But for every piece of bad news, there’s something to celebrate, too.
Vaccination rates in the commonwealth are relatively high compared to the rest of the country. Hospitalizations have only ticked up slightly, even as cases surge. And vaccines are doing their job preventing severe sickness, including for many of the people infected in the Cape, and across the country.
Unvaccinated people now account for more than 97 percent of hospitalizations, according to Rochelle Walensky, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease specialist, has said that more than 99 percent of recent deaths are among the unvaccinated.
That’s why Walensky and others have called this “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
For Gov. Charlie Baker, the situation in Massachusetts seems tenable, even with cases rising, and broad mandates aren’t in play for him yet.
“We’re not looking at changing any of our existing rules or policies,” he said Thursday. “We have a set of statewide standards and they’re based on what we see on a statewide basis. And if communities believe they need to pursue strategies that are more effective and appropriate to them, then they should do so.”
Locally, Berkshire Health Systems says it has seen increased activity in testing centers and on call lines, as well as an uptick in positive tests. COVID-19 cases continue to roughly match the levels of last summer, though the cases are now happening in a population with 60 percent of people fully vaccinated, according to state data.
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KEY STATS: Berkshire County saw one new COVID-19 death in the past week. To date, the county has 289 reported deaths. The confirmed case count rose by 18 over the past week to 6,604.
TWO WEEKS AT A GLANCE: In its most recent report, the state Department of Public Health provided this COVID-19 data for Berkshire County, accurate as of last Saturday.
Cases in last 14 days: 22
Total tests: 422,549
Test positivity in past 14 days: 0.57 percent
STATE PICTURE: The DPH said 21 new confirmed deaths were reported in the last week, pushing the statewide total to 17,673 as of Thursday. Over the last week, confirmed cases rose by 2,286 to 667,818
VACCINATIONS: According to the state’s latest report, 69 percent of Berkshire County residents have received at least one shot and 60 percent are fully vaccinated.
More than 90 percent of residents age 70 and older have had at least one dose, according to the state.
Note that these data, while the best available estimate, still may not accurately reflect the county’s vaccination rates for several reasons.
Part-time residents who moved up to the county during the pandemic, or who left and received their shot elsewhere, may be artificially raising or lowering the rate. People who got vaccinated in other states are not counted in the data.
Town-by-town rates provided by the state are also inaccurate in many cases, since the state collects that data by zip code and many Berkshire County municipalities share zip codes. For example, if you live in one of the municipalities around Great Barrington, there’s a decent chance the state counted your vaccination for Great Barrington, artificially lowering and raising rates in the respective towns.
ACROSS THE POND: In the United Kingdom, cases have skyrocketed. But unlike previous virus surges, hospitalizations and deaths aren’t keeping pace.
“Covid cases continue to rise sharply in UK as Delta sweeps through,” tweeted Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner. “But hospitalizations and deaths continue to be decoupled from the rising spread when viewed relative to similar points in other waves of infection — reflecting protection of most vulnerable through vaccination.”
If that holds true in the United States too, then this surge could well look very different from other ones.
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 last 14 days.
Adams: 362, 6
Alford: fewer than 5, 0
Becket: 71, 0
Cheshire: 130, fewer than 5
Clarksburg: 44, 0
Dalton: 301, 0
Egremont: 16, 0
Florida: 19, 0
Great Barrington: 462, fewer than 5
Hancock: 18, 0
Hinsdale: 72, 0
Lanesborough: 114, 0
Lee: 339, fewer than 5
Lenox: 245, fewer than 5
Monterey: 20, 0
Mount Washington: 6, 0
New Ashford: fewer than 5, 0
New Marlborough: 23, 0
North Adams: 597, 6
Otis: 65, 0
Peru: 12, 0
Pittsfield: 3,008, fewer than 5
Richmond: 42, 0
Sandisfield: 39, 0
Savoy: 17, fewer than 5
Sheffield: 118, 0
Stockbridge: 71, 0
Tyringham: 8, 0
Washington: 9, 0
West Stockbridge: 41, 0
Williamstown: 298, 0
Windsor: 25, 0
WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 192,763,112, with 4,139,486 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 34,289,384 cases and 610,218 deaths.
Across the world, more than 3.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered, Johns Hopkins reports. More than 338 million of those have been administered in the U.S.
HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for zero COVID-19 patient as of Friday. Statewide, 118 people are hospitalized, 36 are in ICU and 12 are on ventilators; those numbers are largely the same as this time last week, with a slight increase in hospitalized patients and those on ventilators.
COVID-19 VACCINES: For information on vaccines and to schedule an appointment, visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org.
Appointments are now available seven days a week for walk-ins at the testing sites in Pittsfield and North Adams. (See below for addresses). 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 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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 can also be obtained through CVS by filling out a form online.
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