Council 5/11/21

Officials expect half of Pittsfield residents will be vaccinated fully in one week.

PITTSFIELD — Officials expect half of city residents will be vaccinated fully in one week, Mayor Linda Tyer said Tuesday, as local vaccine coordinators lean on walk-in clinics to get people inoculated.

“We are on track to hit the 50 percent fully vaccinated mark by May 18,” Tyer said, adding that 40 percent have received both doses so far for vaccines that require it.

Appointments at the three clinics operated by the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative have gone unfilled for the past few weeks, which Tyer said state health officials attribute to increasing vaccinations at pharmacies. To reach more people, the collaborative is offering walk-in clinics, and she said 177 doses were administered at the first walk-in clinic at Berkshire Community College last week, with a second held there Tuesday.

Vaccinators will be on hand to administer Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines at a “pop-up” clinic at The Christian Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, and Tyer said walk-ins are welcome.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15, with vaccinations of that age group expected to begin as early as this week, pending further approvals.

“They will not be vaccinated at any clinics until formally authorized by the state and federal regulators,” Tyer said of those in the age group.

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Despite a “pronounced drop” in coronavirus cases over the past five days, Tyer said the city is sitting in the state’s “yellow,” moderate risk category. Recent coronavirus “clusters” have been traced to a business, Tyer said, without identifying the business, and transmission within households.

She spoke during her regular COVID-19 update at the City Council meeting Tuesday, the day the Department of Public Health reported zero coronavirus deaths statewide. Tyer said the two-week moving average of daily cases has fallen by approximately one-third in the past 14 days, and two people were hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center, though neither was in intensive care.

Meanwhile, the concentration of viral markers in the city’s wastewater system increased slightly compared with the previous test, said Ricardo Morales, the city’s commissioner of public utilities. But, he said that doesn’t necessarily forecast a jump in coronavirus infections.

“We can use that information,” he said of the sewage testing, “in connection with the clinical data to determine that it is ... not necessarily indicative of an upward trend in the future,” Morales said.

The concentration of viral markers in wastewater was too low to quantify the presence of individual variants, he said.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.

Amanda Burke covers Pittsfield City Hall for The Berkshire Eagle. An Ithaca, New York native, she previously worked at The Herald News of Fall River and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise. Find her on Twitter at @amandaburkec.