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TWO TAKES ON REOPENING: As Massachusetts moves to allow more public activity, the head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that relaxing restrictions is risky. The CDC’s director, Rochelle Walensky, noted that hospital admissions and COVID-19 deaths remain "very high.”

“Now is not the time to relax restrictions,” she said at a briefing by the White House COVID-19 Response Team. Walensky said that while leading indicators on COVID-19 are trending in the right direction, they are still high.

In the background: the threat of new virus variants. One of them accounts for about 10 percent of new infections. Walensky said the variants appear to spread more easily. "We are watching these concerning data very closely to see where they will go over the next few days," she said. “Things are tenuous.”

BY THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County saw three new COVID-19 deaths as of Friday, for a new total of 257 deaths, with the confirmed case count up 6 to 4,850, the state Department of Public Health said. A week ago, the death total was 248 and the case total was 4,784. A month ago, the death total was 200 and the case total was 4,363.

The DPH said 46 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 15,703. Confirmed cases rose 1,734 to 547,358.

NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES: 30,983 statewide, compared to 85,395 a month ago; 255 active cases in Pittsfield (down from 895 a month ago); 212 Pittsfield households are in quarantine, down from 509 a month ago.

VACCINE STATUS: As of Friday, 1,142,357 people in Massachusetts had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; 480,196 people had received the required two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The tally is up 25,724 people in a day. The DPH reported that Massachusetts has administered 1,622,553 of the 2,026,900 vaccine doses it has received, or about 80 percent.

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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

COVID-19 WEBSITE AND INFOLINE: For information on vaccines and to schedule an appointment, when you are eligible, visit The city of Pittsfield is providing access by phone to weekly updates about access to the novel coronavirus vaccine in the city and in Berkshire County. A recorded message is posted at 413-449-5575.

WESTERN MASS. PICTURE: The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up 3 to 1,969 (up 1 to 101); Hampshire, up 45 to 7,299 (up 2 to 260); Hampden, up 171 to 41,472 (up 2 to 1,322).

HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for 9 COVID-19 patients, down from 11 a week ago and 30 a month ago; one case was reported at Fairview Hospital. Statewide, 807 people are hospitalized with an average age of 69, down 47 patients from Thursday. A month ago, that patient count was 1,951. Of those hospitalized, 211 are in ICU and 137 are on ventilators.

WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 113,281,336, with 2,513,946 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 28,470,393 cases and 509,983 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: 1,166. That is down from the recent high of 6,239 on Jan. 8.

– Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.9. That is down from the recent high of 8.7 on Jan. 1.

– Seven-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 897. That is down from the recent high of 2,336 on Jan. 9.

– Seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 37. That is down from the recent high of 73.9 on Jan. 11.

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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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Larry Parnass can be reached at and 413-588-8341.

Investigations editor

Larry Parnass, investigations editor, joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant and CommonWealth Magazine.