With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.
LEADING INDICATORS RISING: The line charting the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Massachusetts is suddenly bending up. On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health reported 708 new confirmed infections and 23 deaths — both categories are dramatically higher than recent trends.
Those numbers include five deaths in Hampden County and one in Hampshire County. Hampden County’s case numbers rose in one day by 56.
The DPH provides the following statistics daily as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Each provides a number and then a change in either the count or “lowest observed value.” Thursday’s figures:
— Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.1, up 36 percent
— Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 439, up 48 percent
— Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 6
— Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 17, up 86 percent
Statewide, 436 people are hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 171 people. Of those hospitalized, 84 are in ICU and 32 are on ventilators.
To date, 4,050,617 people in Massachusetts have been tested for the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County’s death toll held steady at 50 as of Thursday, with the confirmed COVID-19 case count also the same at 716, the state Department of Public Health said.
The deaths reported Thursday statewide pushed the total to 9,265. Deaths including those listed as probably caused by COVID-19 is 9,480. Confirmed cases rose, as we said, by 708 to 130,461.
The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 412 (68); Hampshire, up 22 to 1,273 (up one to 145); Hampden, up 56 to 8,339 (up five to 786).
According to data provided by Johns Hopkins, 113,768 people in Massachusetts with COVID-19 have recovered.
BUS COMPANIES IN PERIL: The School Transportation Association of Massachusetts, the trade group for bus companies, warns that at least a dozen state companies are in financial trouble, largely due to the pandemic.
The pressure to find and retain qualified drivers isn’t new, particularly when delivery companies are in the hunt for employees.
“Amazon is looking for drivers because their business is booming. Why not a school bus driver?” asked David Strong, STAM’s president. “We need to be able to pay them what they're accustomed to getting — or we're gonna lose them.”
But changed schedules due to hybrid school schedules is changing the number of hours drivers can work in many districts, creating incentives for them to look elsewhere.
LONG-TERM CARE PICTURE: As of Thursday, 24,921 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities, up 28 in a day. In all, 384 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 6,073 deaths linked to COVID-19, a one-day increase of 13.
BMC TEST RESULTS: As of Thursday, Berkshire Medical Center reported having tested 27,235 people, with 660 positive results. There were 328 pending test results.
WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 34,124,948, with 1,016,723 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins. The U.S. has seen 7,268,298 cases and 207,605 deaths.
AT THE COLLEGES: The Williams College daily dashboard said the campus had administered 15,366 tests for COVID-19 since Aug. 17 and those produced four positive results, including one in the last seven days.
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts said as of Wednesday it has tested 2,224 people with three positive results.
Bard College at Simon’s Rock reported as of Sept. 25 that it had conducted 3,589 tests with two positive results.
AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Thursday, Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had no COVID-19 cases. BMC has had two such patients in the last 14 days, it said.