The Checkup: 3rd day of no new virus deaths in Berkshire County

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

THE NUMBERS: No resident of Berkshire County was reported to have died of COVID-19 in data released Friday, leaving the total at 37 for the third day.

But, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Berkshires now is at 472, up eight from Thursday. Statewide, 150 new deaths were reported by the state Department of Public Health, for a total of 4,702 since the pandemic began. In all, 1,612 new cases were reported in Massachusetts, bringing the statewide total to 75,333.

MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY IN RESTAURANTS: It's an academic questions for the moment, but there is, so far, no state order saying that restaurants, when they are allowed to reopen for sit-down rather than takeout business, must meet state rules in place for other outlets that distribute food, including supermarkets, groceries and convenience stores.

The order that the Pittsfield Board of Health put in place this week does not extend to restaurants, according to Gina Armstrong, the health director. That might be because they are closed.

HOT SPOTS PROLIFERATE: Though the gesture is a throwback to the bad old days in broadband-starved towns, more souped-up hot spots are coming on line around Western Massachusetts.

Hilltowners know the scene well: Cars gathered around public buildings to use shared Wi-Fi. If Norman Rockwell still was painting, he would have set up his easel.

As of Friday, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute reported that the hot spots are up and running in two more Berkshires towns — Becket and Windsor. The state is expanding public access at "community anchor institutions" that use MassBroadband123, the fiber-optic "middle mile," because of all the demand due to remote learning and work-from-home conferencing.

Or, make that Work from Parking Lot.

Here is the full list for the wider area, because the hunger for broadband in internet-deprived towns knows no border:

- Becket Town Hall, 557 Main St.

- Blandford Town Hall, 1 Russell Stage Road

- Chesterfield Town Offices, 422 Main Road

- Cummington Community House, 33 Main St.

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- Egremont Town Hall, 171 Egremont Plain Road

- Goshen Town Office, 40 Main St. (Route 9)

- Hawley Highway Department, 247 West Hawley Road

- Monterey fire station, 411 Main Road

- New Marlborough (three locations), Library, 1 Mill River-Great Barrington Road; Town Hall, 807 Mill River, Southfield Road; fire station, 205 Norfolk Road

- Windsor Town Hall, 1890 Route 9 (Berkshire Trail)

- Worthington, R.H. Conwell Elementary School, 147 Huntington Road

A few promised locations aren't up and running yet in the Berkshire County town of Washington and the Franklin County towns of Ashfield, Charlemont, Heath and Wendell.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Friday, Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield reported caring for eight patients, two of them in intensive care. Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had three cases, one in ICU.

The COVID-19 patient count for other Western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, 20 cases, three in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, three cases, none in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 95 cases, 12 in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, 35 cases, 11 in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, 29 cases, three in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, six cases, none in ICU.

RESOURCE LINK FROM DA'S OFFICE: The Berkshire District Attorney's Office is offering a link-rich online document that takes users to resources around the county.

"The COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges for the residents of Berkshire County," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a statement. "This comprehensive guide is an investment from my office to help meet those challenges by connecting people to the resources they need."

You can find the guide at tinyurl.com/yd4g4skb.

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


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