Brigham and Women's Hospital

A new study overseen by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston will test 10,000 people this winter for COVID-19 and for virus antibodies.

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

SURGE SENTRIES: A new research project by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston will attempt to provide an early-warning system for a possible winter surge in COVID-19 cases. Ten thousand people will take part in the study.

Here’s how it will work: All those people, who are said to represent a cross-section of Boston’s population, will be provided with kits for at-home testing for both the virus and the presence of antibodies against it. All that data will give the designers of TestBoston, as the project is called, an ability to peek into the public health future.

The hope is that by detecting possible clusters of infection, steps can be swiftly taken to corral the virus. Participants must live within 45 miles of Boston; residents of Berkshire County are not eligible.

“As the number of new cases of COVID-19 begin to increase again in our area and as schools face the challenge of how to safely remain open, a new research study could detect when clusters of COVID-19 are on the rise again throughout the fall and winter in the greater Boston area,” according to a statement from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Partners in the effort include the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and the Mass General Brigham Center for COVID Innovation.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County’s death toll stood at 51 as of Sunday, with the confirmed COVID-19 case count at 730, the state Department of Public Health said.

The DPH said 16 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 9,388. Deaths including those listed as probably caused by COVID-19 is 9,604. Confirmed cases rose 570 to 136,168. That is close to the number of cases in Bolivia and more than the total infections in individual countries such as Japan, Poland, Panama, Egypt and Sweden.

The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up one to 426 (up two to 71); Hampshire, up four to 1,356 (up one to 150); Hampden, up 38 to 8,754 (792).

According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, 116,364 people in Massachusetts with COVID-19 have recovered.

LONG-TERM CARE PICTURE: As of Sunday, 25,198 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities. In all, 388 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 6,189 deaths linked to COVID-19.

WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 37,363,585, with 1,074,985 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen 7,759,183 cases and 214,742 deaths.

LEADING INDICATORS: The state Department of Public Health provides the following statistics as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Each provides a number and then a change in either the count or “lowest observed value.” Sunday’s figures:

• Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.1, up 33 percent. (The one-day positive test rate, which does not include repeat tests, was 4.2 percent.)

• Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 514, up 70 percent

• Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 2

• Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 11, up 14 percent

GETTING CREATIVE WITH MONEY: With the federal government stalled on new pandemic stimulus or relief funding , a state agency is stepping up for the creative economy. But the money won’t be seen until next year.

MassDevelopment recently OK’d a new grant round worth $10 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund. Applications are due by Jan. 15. Nonprofits and municipalities that run cultural centers can apply. The money, if secured, can be tapped for capital investment and planning work. Money can be used for physical changes in an institution that allow it to safely accept visitors.

“Cultural nonprofits have been financially devastated by COVID-related closures and have issued an urgent call for public assistance to get back on their feet,” David Slatery, acting executive director of the Mass Cultural Council, said in a statement. The council oversees the grant program with MassDevelopment.

AT THE COLLEGES: The Williams College daily dashboard said the campus had administered 21,080 tests for COVID-19 since Aug. 17 and those produced five positive results. Also, 3,873 tests in the last seven days produced no positive results. The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts said that as of Wednesday it has tested 2,425 people with three positive results. At Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 4,587 tests have been conducted to date with two positive results as of Thursday, the school said.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Sunday, Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had no COVID-19 cases.

The patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, no cases; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, one case; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 15 cases; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, five cases; Holyoke Hospital, six cases; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, three cases. The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

Statewide, 511 people are hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 204 people. Of those hospitalized, 85 are in ICU and 29 are on ventilators. To date, 4,670,758 people in Massachusetts have been tested for the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.

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

Investigations editor

Larry Parnass 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, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.