The Checkup: Death toll in county rises by 1, to 38

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

THE NUMBERS: The death toll for Berkshire County rose by one, to 38, as of Friday, the first change in more than two weeks. The county also had one new case of COVID-19 confirmed, for a total of 510.

Across the state, 80 new deaths were reported by the Department of Public Health, for a total of 6,228. The Massachusetts case count rose by 805, to 90,889.

SUDDENLY, A MASK SURPLUS: Allies of a group of Latino mothers in the Berkshires say a sewing venture needs new angels.

For more than a month, a group of mothers has been sewing protective masks as a way to serve the public and make some money. "To keep their families afloat during this terrible crisis," says Maria Arias.

But, with a glut of masks these days, she says, the women are sitting on a supply they can't sell — perhaps 3,000 masks in all. For information, contact Arias at 413-358-3515.

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 on social and commercial activities. The DPH rates each as "positive trend," "in progress" or "negative trend." Here are the six for Friday:

- COVID-19 positive test rate: Positive trend. (The DPH reported that the seven-day weighted average of positive test rates was 9.2 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 76, a 50 percent decline since April 15.)

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- Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals: In progress. (The three-day average of the number of people in hospitals was 2,412, a 33 percent decline since April 15.)

- Health care system readiness: In progress.

- Testing capacity: Positive.

- Contact tracing capabilities: In progress.

NEAL ON THE POSTAL SERVICE: U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, continues to advocate for the HEROES Act, the $3 trillion relief package that was shaped largely by the House Ways and Means Committee, which he chairs. Neal went to Springfield's main post office Thursday to talk up the need to support the U.S. Postal Service.

The mails are essential, Neal said, and need to be safeguarded. The bill, which the House approved a week ago, would provide $25 billion in new money for the mails. The postal service has seen its revenues drop by the billions due to the pandemic. The bill must win approval in the Senate, which is far from assured.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Friday, 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, 14 cases, three in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, five cases, one in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 75 cases, 18 in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, 25 cases, seven in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, 14 cases, none 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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