Virus Outbreak US (copy)

VACCINATION INCENTIVES:  In New Orleans, the city’s NOLA Ready campaign held an April 13 event offering people a free drink if they received a COVID-19 vaccination at The Howling Wolf, a music venue and bar. Across the U.S., similar incentives seek to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

UPDATED MASK RULE: As of Friday, the state no longer requires people in Massachusetts to wear a face covering while outdoors unless they are within six feet of a member of another household.

Masks should still be worn indoors when in a public place, according to the Thursday order signed by Gov. Charlie Baker. Baker’s previous order required all people 5 years old and above to wear a face covering when in any public place.

BY THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County saw 19 new COVID-19 cases as of Friday, for a new total of 6,295 cases, the state Department of Public Health said. To date, 282 people in the county have died of COVID-19, with no new deaths in the past two weeks. A week ago, the case total was 6,164. A month ago, the death total was 275 and the case total was 5,459.

The DPH said 16 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 17,259. Confirmed cases rose 1,179 to 645,867.

NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES: 25,474 statewide, compared to 30,262 a week ago.

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WESTERN MASS. PICTURE: The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up 11 to 2,462 (113); Hampshire, up 13 to 8,950 (290); Hampden, up 128 to 50,613 (up 5 to 1,495).

SECOND DOSES: Public health officials and advocates say that although a single dose offers partial protection, it’s still important for people to receive a second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, particularly to defend against more infectious COVID-19 variants.

Nearly 8 percent of people who received a first dose are skipping the second dose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated. While that means an overwhelming majority of people are getting their second doses, observers say they’d like to see as many people receive a second dose as possible, according to NPR.

HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for nine COVID-19 patients; no cases were reported at Fairview Hospital.

Statewide, 559 people are hospitalized. Of those hospitalized, 152 are in ICU and 79 are on ventilators.

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WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 150,848,483, with 3,171,320 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 32,341,678 cases and 575,845 deaths.

LEADING INDICATORS: The DPH provides the following statistics as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Friday’s figures:

– Seven-day average of new confirmed cases: 872.6. That is down from 1,579 on Feb. 15.

– Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.65 percent. That is down from 2.19 percent on Feb. 15.

– Seven-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 614.3. That is down from 1,258 on Feb. 15.

– Seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 9.6. That is down from 38.9 on Feb. 15.

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JUST THE FAQS: The Berkshire Eagle is regularly updating answers to frequently asked questions about access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit the Vax FAQs in the Coronavirus section on the home page at berkshireeagle.com.

COVID-19 WEBSITE AND INFOLINE: For information on vaccines and to schedule an appointment, when you are eligible, visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org

INFORMATION ON 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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Material from the State House News Service may have been included in this report. How can we make The Checkup better or more informative? Email us at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com.

Danny Jin can be reached at djin@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6221.

Statehouse Reporter

Danny Jin is the Eagle's Statehouse reporter. A graduate of Williams College, he previously interned at the Eagle and The Christian Science Monitor. Danny can be reached at djin@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter at @djinreports.