The Checkup: Case count growth continues slowdown

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

THE REOPENING: Before getting back into action, owners of businesses that closed during the pandemic must satisfy a lot of new rules.

Big Brother can't be everywhere to check, but the state does have a way of peeking in.

The office of Attorney General Maura Healey is inviting employees to drop a dime (now, isn't that a dated expression?) on workplaces that they believe are coming up short.

Healey's office created an online form through which workers anonymously can flag conditions they believe to fall below standards outlined by Gov. Charlie Baker.

"We want workers to know that we're here as a resource and are dedicated to protecting them during this time," Healey said in a statement.

Among the boxes that can be ticked in the form: improper cleaning or disinfection, hygiene, lack of personal protective equipment, retaliation and lack of social distancing.

The form can be found at tinyurl.com/y8znulsw. It doesn't even cost a dime. People also can call the office's Fair Labor hotline (617-727-3465).

CASE COUNTS SLOW THEIR RISE: For the sixth time, the state Department of Public Health provided a weekly breakdown of confirmed coronavirus cases by city and town. In the Berkshires, the numbers released Wednesday rose modestly in five of 32 communities and remained the same in the rest.

Communities with the highest overall number of infections are Pittsfield (from 147 to 153 cases in a week); Williamstown (no change, at 81); Great Barrington (from 51 to 52); North Adams (from 45 to 47); and Adams (from 33 to 35).

The only other town posting an increase from May 13 to May 20 was Lenox (12 to 13).

Along with Williamstown, the case numbers released Wednesday were unchanged for Alford (0), Becket (12), Cheshire (fewer than 5), Clarksburg (7), Dalton (9), Egremont (5), Florida (fewer than 5), Hancock (fewer than 5), Hinsdale (fewer than 5), Lanesborough (7), Lee (16), Monterey (0), Mount Washington (0), New Ashford (0), New Marlborough (fewer than 5), Otis (fewer than 5), Peru (fewer than 5), Richmond (5), Sandisfield (fewer than 5), Savoy (fewer than 5), Sheffield (15), Stockbridge (14) Tyringham (fewer than 5), Washington (fewer than 5), West Stockbridge (fewer than 5), and Windsor (0).

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The number of cases statewide rose from 80,497 to 88,970 in the week.

LEADING INDICATORS: The state 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. The DPH rates each as "positive trend," "in progress" or "negative trend." Here are the six for Thursday:

- COVID-19 positive test rate: Positive trend. (The DPH reported that the seven-day weighted average of positive test rates was 9.4 percent, a 67 percent decline since April 15.)

- Number of people who died from COVID-19: In progress. (The three-day average of COVID-19 deaths was 81, a 47 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 2,462, a 31 percent decline since April 15.)

- Health care system readiness: In progress.

- Testing capacity: Positive trend.

- Contact tracing capabilities: In progress.

THE NUMBERS: The death toll for Berkshire County held at 37 for the 16th day as of Thursday, though the county saw 12 new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday. The total is now 509.

Across the state, 82 new deaths were reported by the DPH, for a total now of 6,148. The case count rose by 1,114, to 90,084.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Thursday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for two patients, neither 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, 16 cases, four in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, three cases, none in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 68 cases, 17 in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, 26 cases, six in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, 13 cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, two cases, neither in ICU.

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


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