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The Check-Up: Coronavirus testing, cases grow in Berkshires

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

THE NUMBERS: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berkshire County rose as of Tuesday to 171, up from 162 cases the day before. Another Berkshire resident died from the coronavirus, bringing the countywide death toll to six.

The 24-hour period saw 33 more deaths in Massachusetts, for a total of 89 since the pandemic began. As of Tuesday, the number of cases statewide rose by 868, to 6,620.

Almost 47,000 patients have been tested have been tested in the commonwealth. Confirmed cases in neighboring counties are as follows: Franklin, 61; Hampden, 354; and Hampshire, 69.

BMC UPDATES: In a memo Tuesday to staff, an executive with Berkshire Medical Center offered a recap on the institution's response over the last three weeks to the coronavirus pandemic and thanked front-line staff for providing care "to those most in need."

In the message, Darlene Rodowicz, an executive vice president, encouraged staff members, as they tend to medical emergencies, to remember "that there is a human side to this virus."

"Families are being impacted and will never be the same," she wrote. "Know that your small gestures of connecting families with iPads to allow for remote visits or holding the hands of our patients while we restrict visitations is incredibly important and greatly appreciated."

Rodowicz also offered these takeaways:

- As of Tuesday morning, Berkshire Medical Center reported that it was caring for 19 inpatients who have tested positive for COVID-19, 18 patients at BMC and one at Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington. Another 25 patients are awaiting test results.

- The Pittsfield hospital's drive-by testing operation off Seymour Street is testing around 65 people a day. Its current hours, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., might expand based on need.

- As of Tuesday, 171 patients had tested positive; 728 tested negative.

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- The hospital began a new policy this week that requires all staff to wear a surgical mask at work.

- In terms of personal protective equipment, BMC has a four-week supply of N95 respirators, as well as a seven-day supply of ear loop surgical masks. It also has a 21-day supply of surgical masks with ties, Rodowicz said.

CITY DASHBOARD: With so much information streaming in about the pandemic, the city of Pittsfield is offering a new online "community impact dashboard" updated every afternoon that offers an at-a-glance review of key statistics.

Mayor Linda Tyer said the revamped page on the city's website with COVID-19 information is designed to provide "consistent and reliable information through these very difficult times."

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, the dashboard was showing 61 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city and a total of 1,041 tests for the illness.

The website is The mayor's office says the page is getting over 2,000 visitors a day. Apart from the dashboard, the page offers videos, other information and a link to sign up for CodeRED, the city's emergency notification system.

HELP FOR UNDOCUMENTED: A particular group of workers in the region is also out of work, but not eligible for financial help from the government. The Pioneer Valley Workers Center is starting a fund to help.

In a statement this week, the Northampton group said it is taking donations to help undocumented workers. Jose Martinez, vice president of the center's board, said immigrant parents who have lost their jobs locally, including in restaurants and construction firms, face difficulty paying their bills.

"Undocumented immigrant parents are terrified right now about how they will sustain their children and pay their rent without any income," he said in the statement.

The center seeks to raise $50,000 to distribute in small grants to undocumented workers in Western Massachusetts. All immigrant workers from the region can apply. The center says it will use 10 percent of donations to offset its overhead.

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To contribute news to The Check-Up, please email or call 413-588-8341.


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