The Checkup: Exhibiting a sign of progress

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

EXHIBITING CAUTION: The Checkup continues to wade into the fine print of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan, which arrives Monday. We are highlighting rules and recommendations that accompany the restart.

Today: Museums. Coming Tuesday: Fitness centers and health clubs.

The items here are highlights only. For the full picture, visit the state's online guidance.

Given the value of what they display, museums have always kept an eye on visitors. Expect that to be even more the case, as they reopen in Phase 3.

If you are thinking of visiting a museum in the Berkshires, you may see these new practices in place as institutions revamp to meet state guidelines. We'll skip some of the stuff about staying six feet from others — that's assumed by now — and about use of face-coverings and sanitizer stations.

- KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE (NOT FROM THE ART): As with theaters, museums will be required to monitor the traffic flow, limiting occupancy to 40 percent of what's normally considered the maximum. Regardless, there are not supposed to be more than eight people in an enclosed area per 1,000 square feet of space, including staff.

When possible, institutions are asked to put up partitions not only between workers, but at ticket counters and checkout areas.

Exhibit areas should be marked to remind people what six feet of separation looks like. As in supermarkets, patrons may be guided by signs showing the desired flow of foot traffic.

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And when it comes to "interactive" exhibits (such as "touch and feel" displays or play areas) look for changes. The state says they should be closed or be configured with six feet of distancing marked and lots of scheduled wipe-downs.

- PLUG IN YOUR GUIDE: The state is encouraging museums to guide visitors electronically rather than in person. Don't expect to find the usual racks of brochures. Museums are being told they should take them out and dispense printed guides individually. Whatever is used, including audio guides, they should be sanitized between uses, or tossed out in the case of paper.

- KEEP IT SMALL: Places that run guided tours by bus — or duck boat — cannot take on more than half their normal occupancy. It's a little different for open-deck boats, but that's more of a Boston thing. Walking tours max out at 10 people in the state's rules.

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- HOURS WHEN PEOPLE GO: The state has stuffed the suggestion box. Museums, for instance, are urged to sell tickets online and to consider steering visitors into set times to come, to reduce congestion.

- YEAH, THOSE OTHER RULES APPLY: If a museum has a restaurant or gift shop, these areas must conform to state rules in place for eateries and retail.

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. Here are Sunday's figures:

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

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 644, down 82 percent.

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

- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 18, down 88 percent.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County's COVID-19 stats held steady Sunday, with the death toll remaining at 45 and the number of confirmed and probable cases flat at 602.

The state Department of Public Health said the number of confirmed and probable deaths as of Sunday statewide stood at 8,183, rising by 11. New cases for Massachusetts increased by 136 to 109,974.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Sunday, neither Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield nor Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had any COVID-19 patients.

The count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, eight cases, one in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, two cases, neither in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 16 cases, four in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, five cases, one in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, four cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

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


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