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State outlines supports as Williamstown Commons coronavirus toll rises

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WILLIAMSTOWN — A dozen people are now dead amid a coronavirus outbreak at Williamstown Commons.

About 34 additional residents of the nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, with dozens more awaiting test results, according to Lisa Gaudet, communications vice president for Berkshire Healthcare Systems, which owns the facility.

The nursing home is one of 119 in the state to have been infiltrated by the virus, state officials say. Residents of these facilities account for more than 800 coronavirus cases in Massachusetts.

Cases also have cropped up at Fairview Commons, in Great Barrington. There, five residents out of 117 tested positive, Gaudet said. The remainder tested negative, and one result is pending. Those who tested positive already were in private rooms in the short-term care wing, which is segregated from the rest of the nursing home.

It remained unclear whether the virus had made its way into other long-term care facilities in the Berkshires.

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Brooke Karanovich, a spokeswoman for the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services, outlined a series of supports that Gov. Charlie Baker's administration has rolled out in response to the outbreaks at nursing homes, pointing to guidance given to staff, and assistance with testing and protective gear.

"Department of Public Health epidemiologists and nurses are working daily with Williamstown Commons as well as other nursing homes across the state to respond to outbreaks and prevent additional cases," she said. "We were among the first states in the nation to implement stringent visitation restrictions, infection control measures, mobile testing, develop COVID-19 skilled nursing facilities, and screening guidelines for staff."

The state Department of Public Health has been in communication with the facilities to ensure that infected staff are in isolation, that infected residents are separated from others and that precautions are taken in rooms where there are suspected or confirmed cases.

"We will continue to work at stemming the tide of this pandemic among our vulnerable nursing home residents and in the community during this unprecedented pandemic," Karanovich said.

Eagle reporter Heather Bellow contributed to this report.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-464-2859.


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