The Checkup: Billboard celebrates Berkshires charm amid pandemic

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The Berkshire Eagle

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

BILLBOARD SALUTES BERKSHIRES: Even in a pandemic, there's the road trip.

For the rest of the summer, keep your eyes peeled as you travel the state for picturesque views from around the Commonwealth. But not the normal ones.

Seventeen billboards featuring 14 different tourism regions around the state, including the Berkshires, are being put up around Massachusetts as part of a new campaign called "With Love From." The effort is headed by the state Regional Tourism Council to let people know the tourism industry is starting to open up again and that in-state travel can be a safe, fun option even in a pandemic.

Lindsey Schmid, vice president of tourism and marketing at 1Berkshire, said the campaign is designed to remind people "cooped up at home for many months" of "all the fun that awaits them right here in Massachusetts."

Schmid said she's hopeful the Berkshires will be a popular destination this summer in spite of COVID-19 because the region's relatively wide-open spaces allow for social distancing practices to continue.

All the billboards can be viewed on the Spirit of Massachusetts website. Each photo includes a link to a regional tourist destination.

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THE NUMBERS: No one died of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period in all of Massachusetts, according to the state Department of Public Health. Zero. That data may be corrected later, and it conflicts with another report Tuesday of one death in Hampden County. But may be a first since the crisis hit.

Berkshire County's case numbers and death toll both held steady Tuesday. To date, 594 have been confirmed to have COVID-19; the number of people killed by the disease remained at 44, as it has since June 19.

The DPH said the number of confirmed and probable deaths as of Tuesday statewide stood at 8,054. That's 41 fewer deaths than the total provided Monday. The DPH offered this explanation: "Due to ongoing data cleaning which identifies and removes duplicate reports, the number of both confirmed and probable deaths has decreased as of today's report."

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[In Tuesday's The Checkup, we explained why the numbers both rise and fall.]

New cases for Massachusetts increased by 114 on Tuesday to 108,882. The case tallies (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 366 (54); Hampshire, 962 (110); Hampden, 6,776 (665).

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Tuesday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for one patient, not 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, 17 cases, one in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, no cases; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 17 cases, three in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, one case, not in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, five cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

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Across the state, 120 people were being cared for in ICUs; 63 patients were intubated.

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.

- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.8, down 94 percent.

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 748, down 79 percent.

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 1, down 95 percent.

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

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


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