With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.
READY FOR CHALLENGE: Marylou Sudders, the state’s secretary of health and human services, is bullish on the way medical care in Massachusetts rose to the pandemic challenge.
“I have to tell you, the strength of our health care system, our health care delivery system, has never been stronger than in April and May and June, when the pandemic hit hard,” Sudders told listeners at an event held Tuesday by the Health Policy Commission.
That’s good, because evidence abounds of mounting disease. The state reported Tuesday that 821 new cases were confirmed. Hospitals were caring for 517 people with the virus, 94 of them in intensive care units.
For months, Sudders has overseen the state’s COVID-19 command center.
“There were a couple of weekends where the system felt stretched but never overrun, as has happened in other states,” she said, looking back on the first surge of cases last spring.
THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County’s death toll held at 51 as of Tuesday, with the confirmed COVID-19 case count up two, to 742, the state Department of Public Health said.
The DPH said five new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 9,537. Deaths including those listed as probably caused by COVID-19 are 9,758. Confirmed cases rose 821, to 142,295.
The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up three, to 441 (72); Hampshire, up 11, to 1,412 (153); Hampden, up 46, to 9,171 (799). According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, 118,892 people in Massachusetts with COVID-19 have recovered.
LONG-TERM CARE PICTURE: As of Tuesday, 25,301 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities, no change from Monday. In all, 390 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 6,293 deaths linked to COVID-19, up five.
BMC TEST RESULTS: As of Tuesday, Berkshire Medical Center reported having tested 30,058 people, with 680 positive results. There were 299 pending test results.
STOPPING AT RED LIGHT?: A state education official signaled Tuesday that health officials might revamp the way they categorize the spread of COVID-19 by community. That comes after complaints that clusters of cases in places like colleges, jails or nursing homes have tipped communities into the high-risk category, even though the nature of those communities tends to restrict the spread of the disease.
“We’ve seen how those places can skew a city’s or town’s data, and so we’re hoping that when the new metric comes out, it will take that into account,” Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said at a meeting Tuesday in Malden.
It’s an education issue because a change in status can affect how school districts in such areas make the call on in-person versus remote learning. The state’s next data dump on the ratings comes at 6 p.m. Wednesday, complete with a color-coded map.
WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 40,632,190, with 1,121,574 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins. The U.S. has seen 8,258,568 cases and 220,806 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.” Tuesday’s figures:
• Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.3, up 63 percent (one-day rate of 6.2);
• Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 500, up 65 percent;
• Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 1;
• Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 15, up 61 percent.
AT THE COLLEGES: The Williams College daily dashboard said the campus did not administer any new tests for COVID-19 since Monday. In all, since Aug. 17, 24,937 tests have produced five positive results.
AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Tuesday, 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, no cases; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 20 cases; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, five cases; Holyoke Hospital, two cases; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, two cases. The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.
Statewide, 517 people are hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 173 people. Of those hospitalized, 94 are in ICU and 35 are on ventilators. To date, 5,239,651 tests for the virus have been conducted in Massachusetts, according to Johns Hopkins.
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