The Checkup: New dimension to state coronavirus data

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

THE `NEW' NUMBERS, AFTER A REFIGURING: For the first time, the state Department of Public Health on Monday began reporting statistics on "probable" coronavirus cases and deaths, not only those confirmed by molecular tests. That change was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result, the number of confirmed and probable deaths jumped by 141 in Massachusetts and the number of cases by 3,514.

The change in accounting pushed the number of cases in Berkshire County up by 23, to 567. The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 remained the same, at 40. The state total of deaths is now 7,035; cases are at 100,805.

The inclusion of probable cases in Monday's report from the DPH includes cases back to March 1.

By "probable," the tally includes people who were not subject to the standard test for the live virus but had a positive antibody test or showed symptoms or were likely to have been exposed to a person with a confirmed case, the DPH said. The numbers also include people who showed symptoms and were known to have been exposed to a positive case. They also include people for whom COVID-19 was listed on a death certificate but were never tested.

BELLS OF LAMENT: On Monday, churches in Williamstown rang their bells at noon and 5 p.m. to mark the loss of 100,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, as members of the faith groups stood witness to what was termed COVID-19 National Day of Mourning and Lament.

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St. John's Episcopal Church was the first, ringing bells at noon, followed by the First Congregational Church, according to parishioners.

Organizers said the events recognized the fact that losses to the disease "are felt differently around the country, and that the greatest suffering is being inflicted upon communities of color, the poor and disadvantaged, the elderly and unwell."

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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.

- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 6.8, down 76 percent.

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 1,825, down 49 percent.

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 7, down 67 percent.

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- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 50, down 67 percent.

MASK SUPPLIES: Maria Arias checked in to offer thanks to readers who have helped a group of Latino mothers in the Berkshires sell a backlog of protective masks that they have sewn. A recent item in The Checkup mentioned that the sewing circle has been using mask sale revenues to offset lost family income. "I've gotten many, many calls because of that, and have sold over 600 masks," Arias wrote. She asked us to let readers know that the group still has 2,000 masks ready — and can make more.

Cloth masks suitable for adults and children can be purchased at 97 Edward Ave. in Pittsfield and go for $6.50. If bought in a block of 50 or more, they cost $5 each, Arias said. She said delivery is available or the masks can be mailed. For more information, Arias can be reached at 413-358-3515.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Monday, 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, 18 cases, seven in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, two cases, neither in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 48 cases, 10 in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, 20 cases, four in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, eight cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, two cases, neither in ICU.

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


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