COVID-19 THIS WEEK IN BERKSHIRE COUNTY: Get vaccinated, win a million dollars?

Massachusetts residents watched with some envy as other states launched lotteries to encourage vaccination rates – until now.

Registration for the state’s “Mass VaxMillions” vaccine lottery kicks off on Thursday at mass.gov/vaxmillions, with the first drawings toward the end of July. If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re probably eligible to play. When you got the shot(s) doesn’t matter, but where does: Only residents vaccinated in-state are eligible.

The prizes fall into two buckets: Five people 18 and older will win $1 million, and five kids ages 12 to 17 will win $300,000 scholarship grants.

Drawings will take place weekly through August, which means you can still catch up and become eligible even if you have yet to get your first shot of the vaccine.

Massachusetts may not need the lottery quite as much as other states – we have the country’s third-highest vaccination rate at 72 percent of residents 18 and older with at least one shot – but Gov. Baker’s administration wants to bump those numbers even higher. Even here in the Bay State, only 60 percent of all residents, including kids, are fully vaccinated.

KEY STATS: Berkshire County saw 1 new COVID-19 death in the past week as of Friday. To date, the county has seen 288 reported deaths. The confirmed case count rose by eleven over the past week to 6,551.

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: 18

Total tests: 410,920

Test positivity in past 14 days: 0.31 percent

STATE PICTURE: The DPH said 22 new confirmed deaths were reported between last week and this week in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 17,591 as of Tuesday. Over the last week, confirmed cases rose 430 to 663,478.

YOUR ODDS OF WINNING THE VAX LOTTERY: If every adult fully vaccinated as of this week registers, your shot at winning the $1 million prize will be around one in 690,000. Kids 12 to 17 have a better chance, at roughly one in 390,000.

That’s assuming everyone signs up, though. If just half register, your likelihood of winning a million dollar prize doubles.

Either way, the odds are a much better bet than Powerball, where your chances of winning the jackpot are about 1 in 292 million.

MANDATED VACCINATIONS: Several major hospital systems in eastern Massachusetts say they will require vaccinations for employees — but only once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the vaccines. The three vaccines used in the U.S. have only been given emergency authorization so far.

“The evidence of COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness is overwhelming,” Dr. Anne Klibanski, chief executive of Mass General Brigham, said in an email to employees, The Boston Globe reported. “Getting vaccinated is the single most important and responsible step each of us can take to put an end to this devastating pandemic and protect patients, families, and each other.”

In Berkshire County, the hospital system has not made a call about a mandate.

“At this time Berkshire Health Systems has not made any decisions on vaccine requirement,” Michael Leary, hospital spokesperson, told The Eagle. “But we do continue to encourage all unvaccinated employees to consider receiving the vaccine.”

BENEFITS OUTWEIGH RISKS: Federal officials, medical organizations and laboratory and hospital associations joined together to stress that young people should continue to get vaccinated, despite a rare side effect of some COVID-19 vaccines – chest pain and heart inflammation among teenagers and young adults.

“The facts are clear,” the organizations wrote in an unusual joint statement. “This is an extremely rare side effect, and only an exceedingly small number of people will experience it after vaccination. Importantly, for the young people who do, most cases are mild, and individuals recover often on their own or with minimal treatment.”

There have been 323 confirmed reports of heart inflammation in people younger than 30 who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Experts said on Wednesday the inflammation appears to be linked to the shots.

CDC officials will update guidance to say that anyone who suffers the heart inflammation after one dose of the vaccine can defer a second shot. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is planning to put together a product warning that notes the risk.

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: 352, fewer than 5

Alford: fewer than 5, 0

Becket: 71, fewer than 5

Cheshire: 129, 0

Clarksburg: 44, 0

Dalton: 300, 0

Egremont: 16, 0

Florida: 18, 0

Great Barrington: 461, fewer than 5

Hancock: 17, 0

Hinsdale: 72, 0

Lanesborough: 114, 0

Lee: 337, fewer than 5

Lenox: 242, fewer than 5

Monterey: 20, 0

Mount Washington: 6, 0

New Ashford: fewer than 5, 0

New Marlborough: 23, 0

North Adams: 578, 0

Otis: 65, 0

Peru: 12, fewer than 5

Pittsfield: 3,002, fewer than 5

Richmond: 42, 0

Sandisfield: 39, 0

Savoy: 16, 0

Sheffield: 117, 6

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 180,101,870, with 3,902,501 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 33,592,712 cases and 603,211 deaths.

Across the world, more than 2.8 billion vaccine doses have been administered, Johns Hopkins reports. Some 320 million of those have been administered in the U.S.

HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for no COVID-19 patients as of Friday. Statewide, 96 people are hospitalized, 29 are in ICU and 15 are on ventilators; all three numbers decreased from last week.

COVID-19 VACCINES: For information on vaccines and to schedule an appointment, visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org.

Appointments are now available seven days a week for walk-ins at the testing sites in Pittsfield and North Adams. (See below for addresses). Vaccines are available from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Pittsfield and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in North Adams.

In South County, Fairview Hospital is administering vaccinations on-site at the hospital Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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 and The Associated Press may have been included in this report.

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