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The Check-Up: Calls for personal protective gear get louder

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

THE NUMBERS: As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berkshire County nearly doubled from Tuesday, rising from 37 to 71, the state Department of Public Health said. The day brought 679 new confirmed cases in Massachusetts, pushing the total to 1,838. Four additional deaths were reported; in all, 15 people in the state have died.

The day also saw more than 6,000 additional tests for the virus, including 63 people tested at Berkshire Medical Center's drive-thru service. The hospital was caring for 10 people with the virus and another 28 with symptoms associated with COVID-19.

REVISING THOSE CALENDARS: Some cultural organizations in the region are confirming they will remain closed longer than expected.

The list includes the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which said a week ago its galleries would be shuttered through March 31. That's now May 1.

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington has now canceled or postponed events through May 15, adding about five weeks to its down time.

And the Berkshire Museum now says it hopes to reopen its South Street facility in Pittsfield on May 4. In the meantime, it is using its website, YouTube channel and Facebook page to share material with audiences online.

COURTING CAUTION: "Out of an " Well, you know the wording by now. "Abundance of caution." That's why the state Department of Conservation and Recreation has now closed certain types of recreational areas in the state park system. They include basketball, tennis, handball, pickleball and bocce courts. The restriction is in place until April 7, but that date may be "reassessed," DCR says.

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On top of that, the state is extending projected opening dates of closed rinks, visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds and fitness centers until April 7.

Parks themselves remain open, but people are reminded to keep a good distance between themselves and not gather in groups of 10 or more. If you go, be prepared to pack it out. DCR is removing trash barrels, which are seen as a potential source of disease transmission.

FUTURE SHOP: "Facilitator." "Advocate." Those are two words Downtown Pittsfield Inc. uses to describe what it's been working to accomplish for the city center since 1983. With many stores closed, the group is rolling out a strategy to help keep at least some revenue flowing to the commercial community. This week, the group launched an online store, selling gift cards to more than 40 businesses.

People can buy cards worth $25, $50 or $100. After selecting any of those denominations, purchasers use a drop-down menu to pick a business. The options include arts groups, restaurants, fitness centers and all kinds of stores, even a hardware outlet and lumber company. Businesses that want to join the list can email info@downtownpittsfield.com or call 413-443-6501.

NEW APPEAL FOR DONATIONS: Last weekend, a Great Barrington-based ambulance company appealed to the public to donate personal protective equipment for first-responders. Those calls are growing.

On Tuesday, the mayor's office in Pittsfield asked not only for gifts of such gear (masks, disposable gowns, gloves and more) but invited businesses and residents to fill out an online form specifying what's available. The survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/NTTQT2Y.

All donations must be unopened and in original packaging, according to Roberta McCulloch-Dews, the city's director of administrative services. The need includes specialized masks known as N95 and P100.

Donations are being taken at the Central Berkshire County Emergency Operations Center at 264 Second St. For information, call the Pittsfield Fire Department at 413-448-9753.

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


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