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The Checkup: Berkshire County sees day with no new coronavirus cases, deaths

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

THE NUMBERS: No new deaths and no new cases of the coronavirus were reported Monday for Berkshire County, a welcome development that came on a day when Gov. Charlie Baker said the spread appears to have reached a plateau.

Still, the governor warned at his briefing that the state is "still in the surge and very much in the fight."

The state Department of Public Health announced 104 new deaths statewide for the reporting period that ended Monday, bringing the total to 3,003 since the pandemic began. The death toll in the Berkshires remained at 31 for the sixth day.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases for the county held at 428. Statewide, there were 1,524 new cases of coronavirus reported, for a total of 56,462.

WINTER OF HIS DISCONTENT: Winter is normally a slower time of year for Repro Systems, a small business in Pittsfield that makes all kinds of signs. Owner Bryan Cadran says he used some of that downtime to recruit candidates. He wanted to be ready when trade picked up.

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Then March came. Amid coronavirus fears and shutdowns, business slumped by 75 percent, he said. Instead of hiring, Cadran laid off two full-time workers. That left just him at the shop at 20 Yorkshire Ave., where he took care of orders by himself. "That's how drastic a cut it was."

On Monday, those two employees returned, their pay secured by a $21,000 loan Cadran received through the Paycheck Protection Program.

"They're happy to be back," said Cadran, who now, with his wife, runs and owns the business Cadran's father started in 1980.

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At 11 a.m. Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, is expected to stop by. Tagging along with Neal will be Wendell Davis, the SBA's regional administrator, and Oreste Varela, a branch manager.

The loan program, run by the Small Business Administration, is back up and running this week, after exhausting its first round of funding amid criticism that lots of the $349 billion available went to large companies with other access to capital. Scores of Berkshires businesses that applied for money came up short when the program was halted April 16. Congress last week allocated another $310 billion to the program.

Cadran borrowed through Greylock Federal Credit Union, where he believes a personal connection may have helped keep him in the running as an applicant. Repro Systems had recently printed large-format photos for an outdoor "drive-by" funeral of a family member of Jodi Rathbun-Briggs, Greylock's senior vice president and chief lending officer.

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"I was able to give mine to her and she said she would process it directly," Cadran said.

Rathbun-Griggs and John Bissell, Greylock's president and CEO, told The Eagle this month that their institution handled over $24 million worth of the SBA loans in under two weeks.

Looking ahead, Cadran sees better times. His company just booked repeat business with the Lee Premium Outlets, which hired it to create signs that will direct customers at the Lee plaza, alerting them to new policies about use of the space. Look for floor markers, window decals and even vinyl that will adhere to sidewalks, making them one-way.

In Cadran's father's day, Repro Systems made blueprints for architectural and construction companies. That represents a fifth of the business today, with large format color signs now the focus — and the subject, slowly, of resumed customer interest.

"It's starting to come around," Cadran said.

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


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