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MARIAN FATHERS HIT BY VIRUS: An outbreak of 17 COVID cases has been reported at the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic male congregation’s National Shrine on Prospect Hill in Stockbridge. “Everyone is following COVID safety guidelines and complying with isolation and quarantine standards,” said James Wilusz, executive director of the Tri-Town Health Department covering Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge.


With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.

At the department’s request, County Ambulance was called in last week for on-site testing for the virus. Wilusz credited Brian Andrews, president of the Pittsfield-based ambulance service, for stepping up to assist.

“Right from the early weeks of this pandemic, the Marian Fathers have acted with admirable responsibility and concern for the rest of the town,” said Dr. Charles Kenny, chairman of the Stockbridge Board of Health. Kenny said the board is grateful for the group’s efforts to contain the virus.

BY THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County saw three new COVID-19 deaths as of Wednesday, for a new total of 190 deaths, with the confirmed case count up 42 to 4,123, the state Department of Public Health said.

The DPH said 78 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 13,547. Confirmed cases rose 3,987 to 458,089. According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, at least 324,203 people in Massachusetts have recovered from COVID-19.

NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES: 90,154 statewide; 819 in Pittsfield (up 27 from Tuesday); 463 Pittsfield households are in quarantine.

COVID-19 INFOLINE: The city of Pittsfield is providing access by phone to regular 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 22 to 1,637 (95); Hampshire, up 58 to 5,139 (up 2 to 222); Hampden, up 363 to 33,910 (up 6 to 1,144).

LONG-TERM CARE WATCH: As of Wednesday, 33,123 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities, up 101 since Tuesday. In all, 419 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 7,817 deaths linked to COVID-19, 28 more in a day.

HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for 28 COVID-19 patients, down from 31 on Tuesday. Meantime, BMC reported having tested 51,559 people, with 3,184 positive results since the pandemic began. There were 540 pending test results. The positivity rate for BMC tests was 5.2 percent in the last seven days, less than the 7.6 percent rate seen in the laser 14 days and even under the 5.2 percent rate since March 1.

Statewide, 2,209 people are hospitalized. Of those hospitalized, 444 are in ICU and 299 are on ventilators.

To date, 12,536,712 tests for the virus have been conducted in Massachusetts, according to the DPH.

WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 96,663,367, with 2,069,532 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen 24,403,070 cases and 405,400 deaths.

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

– Seven-day average of new confirmed cases: 3,017.3

– Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 5.86

– Seven-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 2,202.8

– Seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 59

INFORMATION ON TESTING: “Stop the Spread” testing sites are now 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.

TESTING AT UMASS AMHERST: The Mullins Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is now providing free COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms of the disease. For information, and to make an appointment (which is required), visit the UMass homepage at click on the “communitycovidtest” link in the yellow box.

‘DARK DAYS’ AHEAD: The State House News Service reports that Dr. Rochelle Walensky of Massachusetts, President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a “Face the Nation” interview that she expects the country will see 500,000 COVID-19 deaths by mid-February, meaning there are "some dark weeks ahead."

"By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country," Walensky said, based on a transcript of the interview, not yet aired, provided by CBS. "That doesn't speak to the tens of thousands of people who are living with a yet uncharacterized syndrome after they've been recovered — after they've recovered. And we still yet haven't seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel, from holiday gathering in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and the deaths thereafter."

To contribute news to The Checkup, please email or call 413-588-8341.

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.