With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.
ESTEEMED JOURNAL BREAKS ITS POLITICAL SILENCE: In the 208 years that the New England Journal of Medicine has been publishing, it has considered the health of the American body from every angle.
Never, until this week, did it comment on the body politic — at least in terms of who should govern from the highest office.
The editorial is called “Dying in a leadership vacuum.” While it does not mention President Donald Trump by name, the piece, complete with footnotes, asserts that the country squandered its many advantages and allowed a disease to ravage the land.
“Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership,” it reads. “With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”
The editorial notes that the death rate in the U.S. is more than twice that of Canada. It is nearly 50 times the death rate in Japan, “a country with a vulnerable and elderly population.”
“Our leaders,” the journal’s editors say, should not go unpunished.
“Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences,” the editorial reads. “Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent.”
THE NUMBERS: One day offered a reprieve this week in the region from COVID-19 deaths. No one died in the state’s four western counties, including Berkshire County, on Thursday.
Berkshire County’s death toll stood at 51 as of Thursday, with the confirmed COVID-19 case count at 726, the state Department of Public Health said.
The DPH said eight new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 9,350. Deaths including those listed as probably caused by COVID-19 is 9,565. Confirmed cases rose 409 to 134,277.
The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up two to 424 (69); Hampshire, up four to 1,345 (148); Hampden, up 10 to 8,621 (791).
According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, 116,364 people in Massachusetts with COVID-19 have recovered.
LONG-TERM CARE PICTURE: As of Thursday, 25,155 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities, 16 more than Wednesday. In all, 387 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 6,168 deaths linked to COVID-19, an increase of eight.
BMC TEST RESULTS: As of Thursday, Berkshire Medical Center reported having tested 28,425 people, with 668 positive results. There were 238 pending test results.
WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 36,392,272, with 1,059,616 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen 7,598,280 cases and 212,632 deaths.
LEADING INDICATORS: The state Department of Public Health provides the following statistics 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: 1.0, up 34 percent
• Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 498, up 65 percent
• Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 5
• Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 12, up 29 percent
AT THE COLLEGES: The Williams College daily dashboard said the campus had administered 19,166 tests for COVID-19 since Aug. 17 and those produced five positive results. Also, 3,800 tests in the last seven days produced one positive result.
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts said Wednesday it has tested 2,425 people with three positive results.
At Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 4,587 tests have been conducted as of Thursday, the school said, with two positive results.
AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Thursday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for one COVID-19 patient. Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had no cases.
The patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, no cases; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, two cases; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 15 cases; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, five cases; Holyoke Hospital, three cases; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases. The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.
Statewide, 484 people are hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 180 people. Of those hospitalized, 83 are in ICU and 34 are on ventilators.
To date, 4,541,516 people in Massachusetts have been tested for the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.