The Checkup: Five more confirmed cases in Berkshires

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

THE NUMBERS: For the second day in a row, Sunday brought five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berkshire County. The death total remained at 38.

To date, 520 cases have been confirmed in the county, the state Department of Public Health said.

Across the state, 68 new deaths were reported, for a total of 6,372. The case count rose by 1,013 to 92,675.

UMASS WORKERS FACE FURLOUGHS: Members of three represented groups at the University of Massachusetts must take five unpaid days off in the first three weeks of June, the school said last week, to reduce expenses because of the coronavirus.

The furloughs involve 3,000 members of the Professional Staff Union, the University Staff Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 1776. The university has not yet revealed how the pandemic will affect its fall semester. It was forced to refund an estimated $70 million to students after it sent them home in early March and shifted to remote learning.

IN QUARANTINE: People who have been exposed to the virus remain subject to quarantine. As of Wednesday, the most recent figures available, 23,789 people were undergoing quarantine. That's fewer than the number — 32,549 — who have completed that isolation, the DPH says.

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BANNER DAYS: Once Bryan Cadran got his Pittsfield business back on its feet, rehiring employees with the help of a $21,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan, he landed orders that wouldn't have come in, if not for the pandemic.

Cadran's shop, Repro Systems, makes signs and graphics. Even while running the business alone for a spell, he produced signs used for places like Guido's Fresh Marketplace. As it prepared to resume retail sales, Lee Premium Outlets ordered floor graphics and even signs to guide pedestrian use of sidewalks.

The week his workers came back in late April, Cadran was filling orders for 24-by-36-inch banners printed with school logos. He got truckload pricing on supplies and was making the banners available for $18 plus tax, about half the usual cost. The banners have grommet-protected holes in the corners and are designed to be hung outdoors.

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"These are really taking off," Cadran said of the signs celebrating graduates. "It's kind of taken the place of yearbooks."

LEADING INDICATORS: The state Department of Public Health is tracking six measurements in its daily COVID-19 report card. Whether ground is gained or lost in each will influence the pace of lifting restrictions on social and commercial activities. The state DPH rates each as "positive trend," "in progress" or "negative trend." Here are the six for Sunday:

- COVID-19 positive test rate: Positive trend. [The DPH reported that the seven-day weighted average of positive test rates was 9.1 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 69, a 55-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 2,243, a 37-percent decline since April 15.]

- Health care system readiness: In progress.

- Testing capacity: Positive trend.

- Contact tracing capabilities: In progress.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Sunday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for four patients, none 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, 12 cases, five in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, seven cases, none in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 69 cases, 18 in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, 17 cases, eight in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, 13 cases, three 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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