COVID-19 THIS WEEK IN BERKSHIRE COUNTY: It’s been three weeks since the state lifted almost all pandemic safety restrictions, and COVID-19 cases remain well below where they were before vaccinations became widely available.
As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Massachusetts is no longer under a state of emergency. Pittsfield followed suit shortly thereafter, ending the emergency that Mayor Linda Tyer declared on March 12, 2020. But, city public health officials say they’re continuing to contact the few people who test positive for COVID-19, in addition to working to encourage more people to be vaccinated.
In the past two weeks, only four of the 32 cities and towns Berkshire County reported a new COVID-19 case. All four of them — Lee, Lenox, Pittsfield and Sheffield — reported fewer than five new cases.
State lawmakers have temporarily extended many policies tied to the state of emergency. Policies ranging from eviction protections, to virtual public meetings, to cocktails for takeout will be here to stay for the near future.
KEY STATS: Berkshire County saw no new COVID-19 deaths as of Friday. To date, the county has seen 287 reported deaths. The confirmed case count rose by five over the past week to 6,540.
TWO WEEKS AT A GLANCE: In its weekly report Thursday, the state Department of Public Health provided this COVID-19 data for Berkshire County, accurate as of Tuesday. (For comparison sake, the figures are followed by the corresponding state data):
Cases in last 14 days: 10
Total tests: 407,945
Test positivity in past 14 days: 0.18 percent
STATE PICTURE: The DPH said three new confirmed deaths were reported Friday in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 17,596. Confirmed cases rose 71 to 663,119.
EXTENDED STATE POLICIES: It took until the day after the state of emergency ended, but the state has extended some policies that expired with the emergency on Tuesday. The Legislature sent Gov. Charlie Baker a bill late on Tuesday, and Baker signed the bill Wednesday. One of the provisions extended until April 2022 requires courts to pause an eviction case if a tenant has an ongoing rental assistance application. Virtual public meetings and special permits for expanded outdoor dining were also extended for the same period, and restaurants will be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks to-go until May 2022.
SMARTPHONE EXPOSURE ALERTS: Massachusetts on Tuesday launched MassNotify, which uses Bluetooth technology to tell users who sign up if they may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Developed by the state with Apple and Google, the service is anonymous and does not share location or phone data with Apple, Google or the state, officials said. Users with Apple or Android phones can enable exposure notifications in their phone settings. Massachusetts is one of 29 states to provide exposure notifications to residents with smartphones.
DONATING DOSES: The United States will donate 500 million vaccine doses, President Joe Biden said last week, to the COVAX collective, which has been seeking to make vaccine availability more equitable across the globe. The U.S. has an abundance of doses but has resorted to offering residents incentives — Massachusetts is giving away a college scholarship and $1 million in cash as prizes, for instance — to sign up for a free shot. Many nations face an opposite problem, with cases continuing to surge and little supply of vaccinations. As wealthy and powerful nations hoard doses, they have faced pressure to donate from organizations such as the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, which have asked wealthy nations to consider global shortages before vaccinating low-risk children and adolescents.
COMMUNITY DATA: Here are this week’s figures from the DPH on confirmed coronavirus cases by city and town. In alphabetical order, this lists all Berkshire County communities. The first number is the total number of cases during the pandemic. The second is the number of new cases in the last 14 days.
- Adams: 351, 0
- Alford: fewer than 5, 0
- Becket: 69, 0
- Cheshire: 129, 0
- Clarksburg: 44, 0
- Dalton: 300, 0
- Egremont: 16, 0
- Florida: 18, 0
- Great Barrington: 458, 0
- Hancock: 17, 0
- Hinsdale: 72, 0
- Lanesborough: 114, 0
- Lee: 337, fewer than 5
- Lenox: 242, fewer than 5
- Monterey: 20, 0
- Mount Washington: 7, 0
- New Ashford: fewer than 5, 0
- New Marlborough: 23, 0
- North Adams: 578, 0
- Otis: 65, 0
- Peru: 11, 0
- Pittsfield: 3,000, fewer than 5
- Richmond: 42, 0
- Sandisfield: 39, 0
- Savoy: 16, 0
- Sheffield: 113, fewer than 5
- Stockbridge: 70, 0
- Tyringham: 8, 0
- Washington: 9, 0
- West Stockbridge: 41, 0
- Williamstown: 297, 0
- Windsor: 25, 0
WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 177,586,893, with 3,845,031 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 33,516,437 cases and 601,228 deaths.
HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for no COVID-19 patients as of Friday. Statewide, 110 people are hospitalized, 32 are in ICU and 19 are on ventilators; all three numbers decreased from the previous week.
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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