North adams commons

Twenty residents and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the North Adams Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center this week.

NORTH ADAMS — More than 20 people at the North Adams Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

Twenty residents and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19, said Lisa Gaudet, vice president of business development and communications at Berkshire Healthcare.

Of the 22 cases, all but one person, a resident, was vaccinated, according to Gaudet.

"We are currently doing our tracing to understand where exposure may have come from," she said.

Berkshire Health Systems has seen an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent days, according to Michael Leary, director of media relations.

"It went from zero earlier this week to six today," Leary said. For patient confidentiality reasons, he could not comment on patients' conditions.

"There have been increases in cases not just here in our community, but across the state and across the country," he said. "There is a very significant outbreak in Massachusetts in Provincetown right now, which is all very likely the delta variant."

The North Adams Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center reported three resident cases in an interview with The Eagle on Thursday, and Gaudet said test results that came back Friday confirmed additional cases.

"We have 50 more staff to test, and that testing will go out this afternoon," Gaudet said Friday afternoon. "We will know those results tomorrow."

The facility had not seen a positive case since April 2020, according to Gaudet.

All staff and residents are being tested, and there are no other cases at other Berkshire Healthcare facilities, according to Gaudet. They also are working with the state Department of Public Health to determine what variant the cases are.

"As we know, none of the vaccines are 100-percent effective," Gaudet said.

Vaccines are effective, and a small percentage of vaccinated people will get COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We're seeing them to be quite effective with the folks that have accepted them," Gaudet said of the vaccines.

As of July 4, 89 percent of residents and 67 percent of staff at North Adams Commons had gotten vaccinated for COVID-19, according to Gaudet. Across all facilities, 94 percent of residents and 76 percent of staff were vaccinated, she said.

Overall at Berkshire Health Systems, about 80 percent of employees are vaccinated, according to Leary.

“We have approximately 4,000 employees. Nearly 800 of them are unvaccinated," Leary said. He is hopeful that more staff will get vaccines.

Will BHS require employees to get vaccinated?

“We have not made any decision on that," Leary said.

In general, he said, “We're asking people, if you are unvaccinated, please consider receiving the vaccine. It's safe. It's effective."

The vaccine is not 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in everyone, he said, but across the country, those who are vaccinated are showing less severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.

"The more people are vaccinated, the better. And the better it will be for everyone in our community," he said.

This story was updated Friday afternoon to reflect updates in testing results and hospitalizations.