The Checkup: 5 new virus cases in Berkshires; no new deaths

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

LOOKING FOR HOPE: A Pittsfield man in his late 80s asked The Checkup to look into a question that has been on his mind.

Because he has an underlying medical condition that puts him at special risk, he is housebound. His spouse also is sheltering to avoid the chance of bringing home the virus.

"If I should get the COVID, it would certainly be fatal," he wrote in an email. "As it is now the statistics are scary. What we read is `if you get it, you could die.' I need to have something hopeful to look forward to."

As he is aware, underlying conditions are a major factor in COVID-19 deaths. As of Saturday, 98.2 percent of deaths in Massachusetts involved people with such conditions. And statistically, adding advanced age to the equation darkens the picture.

While people in the 50 to 59 age group represent the largest category by number of cases (14,690), those older than 80 have, far and away, the highest rate of confirmed infection — with 4,599 cases for every 100,000 people.

The disease has killed 3,948 people in the top age category, compared with 228 in the 50-to-59 years group. People 80 and older also are far more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.

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The most hopeful number I could find for my Pittsfield correspondent is this: Of the 13,404 people age 80 or older with the disease, 9,456 have not succumbed to it, according to state Department of Health numbers. That's a survival rate of 70.5 percent.

Not so hopeful: More people age 80 and older have died than have been hospitalized with the disease. That's likely because of deaths in nursing homes.

LEADING INDICATORS: The DPH is tracking six measurements in its daily COVID-19 report card. Whether ground is being gained or lost in each will influence the pace of lifting restrictions on social and commercial activities. The DPH rates each as "positive trend," "in progress" or "negative trend." Here are the six for Saturday:

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- COVID-19 positive test rate: Positive trend. (The DPH reported that the seven-day weighted average of positive test rates was 9.3 percent, a 68 percent decline since April 15.)

- Number of people who died from COVID-19: In progress. (The three-day average of COVID-19 deaths was 75, a 51 percent decline since April 15.)

- Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals: In progress. (The three-day average of the number of people in hospitals was 2,319, a 35 percent decline since April 15.)

- Health care system readiness: In progress.

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- Testing capacity: Positive trend.

- Contact tracing capabilities: In progress.

THE NUMBERS: Though five new cases of COVID-19 were reported Saturday in Berkshire County, the death toll held at 38. To date, 515 cases have been confirmed, the DPH said.

Across the state, 76 new deaths were reported, for a total of 6,304. The case count rose by 773, to 91,662.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Saturday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for four patients, none of them in intensive care. Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had no cases.

The COVID-19 patient count for other Western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, 12 cases, five in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, six cases, none in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 75 cases, 17 in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, 18 cases, eight in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, 16 cases, one in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, two cases, none in ICU.

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


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