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The Checkup: Free wifi hotspots extended through year by state

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

HOTSPOTS WILL HANG IN THERE: The free — and fast — internet hotspots created to help those without home broadband will remain in place through the year.

Though scheduled to end Sept. 1, the hotspots created in 26 communities by state's broadband program will remain in operation, the state said Monday. The access points are helping people still without broadband cope with the pandemic, particularly with education and accessing telehealth services.

Users pay nothing for the access, which is rated at up to 250 megabits per second, 10 times the federal definition of broadband speed.

Access is available in and around the following locations in Berkshire County and western Hampshire County:

- Becket Town Hall, 557 Main St.

- Cummington Community House, 33 Main St.

- Florida Senior Center, 367 Mohawk Trail (Route 2)

- Hancock Elementary School, 3080 Hancock Road

- New Marlborough Library, 1 Mill River-Great Barrington Road

- Sandisfield Town Hall, 66 Sandisfield Road

- Savoy Town Hall, 720 Main Road

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- Washington Town Hall, 8 Summit Hill Road

- Windsor Town Hall, 1890 Route 9 (Berkshire Trail, Route 9)

The service was set up by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and KCST USA, which operates the MassBroadband 123 fiber optic network. The internet service providers helping out are AccessPlus, Crocker Communications and Westfield Gas+Electric. Officials remind people to practice social distancing when gathered at the hotspot locations.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County's death toll remained at 46 as of Monday, with the confirmed COVID-19 case count up eight to 641 since Saturday, the state Department of Public Health said.

The state Department of Public Health said 27 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 8,717. Deaths including those listed as probably caused by COVID-19 is 8,949. Confirmed cases since the last state report on Saturday rose 571 to 116,421. (The DPH did not provide data Sunday.)

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The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up one to 381 (61); Hampshire, up 14 to 1,130 (up one to 134); Hampden, up 17 to 7,538 (up three to 737).

According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, 102,205 people in Massachusetts with COVID-19 have recovered. (That statistic hasn't been updated since Saturday.)

As of Monday, 24,567 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities. In all, 379 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 5,728 deaths linked to COVID-19, an increase of 14 since the last report.

DONATIONS FUND PPE FOR SCHOOLS: Carr Hardware locations in the region are serving as collection points for donations to help purchase personal protective equipment for use in Berkshire County schools. The program is called "Round-up for the Schools." A Carr Hardware spokeswoman said the program recently triggered an anonymous donation of $2,000 donation at the company's Lee store.

BMC TEST RESULTS: As of Monday, Berkshire Medical Center reported having tested 20,993 people, with 601 positive results and 20,079 negative. There were 313 pending test results.

BEYOND OUR BORDERS: Global cases as of Monday totaled 23,522,806, with 810,087 deaths and 15,177,304 instances of recovery, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen 5,730,294 cases, 177,065 deaths and 1,997,782 recoveries, the school said as of Monday.

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 change in either the count or "lowest observed value." Monday's figures:

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- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.1, unchanged.

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 313, unchanged.

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 1, 1 higher than lowest.

- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 15, up 41 percent.

WILLIAMS COLLEGE REPORTS: The college's daily dashboard said, as of Monday, that the campus had taken 925 tests for COVID-19 and those produced zero positive results.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Monday, Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had no COVID-19 cases.

The patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, four cases, one in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, one case, in the ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 31 cases, three in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, six cases, one in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, seven cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, two cases, neither in ICU.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

Statewide, as of Monday there were 308 people hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 126 people. Of those hospitalized, 62 are in ICU and 26 are on ventilators.

To date, 12,256 people have been hospitalized in Massachusetts, according to Johns Hopkins, and 1,553,673 people have been tested for the virus.

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


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