The Checkup: Antibody testing numbers rise

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

PROGRESS IN ANTIBODY TESTS: The number of people who have undergone testing for evidence of COVID-19 antibodies has now topped 80,000 in Massachusetts, with about 10 percent of the tests showing exposure to the virus. On Sunday, the state said 512 more people had taken the test, pushing the total to 80,573. The test detects proteins in the blood that help fight infection.

While the state's official stance is to support the value of antibody tests, because they help reveal how many people have been exposed, the DPH offers this caution:

"At this time, most people don't need antibody tests and they should not be used to guide decisions on whether to stop isolation or return to work. Currently, there is no proof that antibodies in your blood means that you are immune from further infection with COVID-19."

DEATHS IN LONG-TERM CARE: As of Sunday, the number of deaths in long-term care facilities attributed to COVID-19, or considered probably due to the virus, represents 65 percent of all coronavirus fatalities in the state to date.

The DPH reports 5,274 deaths in long-term care; the count of all confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts stood at 8,110, not counting another 27 considered probably caused by the virus.

To date, 23,674 residents and staff at such places have tested positive. One or more cases have been confirmed in 369 long-term care facilities in Massachusetts.

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LEADING INDICATORS: The state Department of Public Health provides the following statistics daily as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Each provides a number and then a percentage change since April 15. Sunday's figures:

- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.7, down 94 percent. [Sunday's results showed a jump to 7 percent.]

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 613, down 83 percent.

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- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 2, down 90 percent.

- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 16, down 89 percent.

The average age in fatal cases as of Sunday was 82. Of those who died, 98.2 percent had an underlying medical condition, the DPH said.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County's death toll held steady at 45 but the confirmed COVID-19 case count rose by two to 613 as of Sunday, the state Department of Public Health said.

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The DPH said 15 new deaths were reported, pushing the statewide total to 8,110. The number of confirmed cases rose 172 to 105,629. Meantime, probable cases (a separate tally) rose by 27 as of Sunday to 5,968.

The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 384 (57); Hampshire, 1,008 (117); Hampden, 7,000 (678).

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Sunday, no COVID-19 patients were being treated at either Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield or Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington.

The COVID-19 patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, six cases, three in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, no cases; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 12 cases, two in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, two cases, neither in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, six cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

Statewide, the DPH reported that 583 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of those, 93 were being cared for in an ICU and 43 had been intubated.

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


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