The Checkup: Hinds, others gather info on virus impact

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

SENATE TAKES STOCK: State Sen. Adams Hinds, D-Pittsfield, will join with colleagues Monday to assess how the pandemic has affected the state's health care system.

Starting at 11 a.m., the Senate's "listening session" will hear from experts, officials and regular people.

The point, organizers say, is to get a handle on pressures the disease is exerting on how public health is protected in Massachusetts, including ways in which COVID-19 may render that care less equitable.

The sessions run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be livestreamed at malegislature.gov.

Among those to be heard are public health experts, city managers, Baker administration officials and representatives of health care providers, including Donna Kelly-Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents registered nurses at Berkshire Medical Center.

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. Sunday's numbers:

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- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 2, down 93 percent.

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 769, down 79 percent.

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 3, down 86 percent.

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- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 23, down 85 percent.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County's case numbers and death toll both held steady Sunday. To date, 594 have been confirmed to have COVID-19; the number of people killed by the disease remained at 44, the total since June 19.

The DPH said the number of confirmed and probable deaths as of Sunday statewide climbed by 19 to 8,060. New cases for Massachusetts increased by 224 to 108,667. The case tallies (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 366 (54); Hampshire, 958 (110); Hampden, 6,760 (663).

SINGER SINGS PRAISES: We got a note from Kenneth Singer, president and CEO of the nonprofit Berkshire County Arc. He had a tip of the hat for our recent series of items "tipping the hat" to people who have helped others during the pandemic.

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Singer wrote in to offer an amen to our item on Harriet Hunt. "Harriet has made hundreds of masks for the essential workers at Berkshire County Arc," he wrote. "I have known Harriet for 40 years dating back to when she was the best special ed teacher in the Pittsfield school system. Her support for our staff was amazing. Her daily delivery of masks during our most difficult time truly made a difference," Singer wrote.

Yes, "daily," he said, setting quite a high bar. Singer said that since the pandemic hit, employees at his agency have "protected the individuals living in our 43 group homes and helped to keep them healthy and safe."

Know of someone who is going above and beyond to help others during the pandemic? We'd like to help get them the recognition they deserve. Send a short informal nomination to us at The Checkup by emailing lparnass@berkshireeagle.com.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Sunday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for one patient, not 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, 15 cases, one in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, three cases, two in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 19 cases, four in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, four cases, none in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, seven cases, two 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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