The Checkup: No new Berkshire virus deaths

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

FED CITES "UNCERTAIN" TIME: When not pushing trillions into the monetary system, the Federal Reserve monitors economic activity and reports on conditions in what it calls its Beige Book. For most businesses, it's all about red these days.

In a report this week, the Fed office in Boston surprised no one by stating that business continued to slump in May.

Here are a few key passages: "Many retailers and almost all hospitality businesses reported low to nil activity levels because of the pandemic. Responding manufacturers and staffing firms cited ongoing fall-offs in sales or revenue in recent weeks, but mostly still at sustainable levels. Commercial and residential real estate markets continued to be on pause, with some retail tenants reportedly having difficulty paying rent. Many firms furloughed or laid off workers, but some, involved in 'essential' or pandemic-fighting businesses, retained staff and even continued hiring. Near-term outlooks were highly uncertain and generally downbeat."

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 Friday's figures:

- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 7.7, down 73 percent;

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- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 2,070, down 42 percent;

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 9, down 57 percent;

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- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 56, down 63 percent.

THE NUMBERS: The number of people killed by COVID-19 in Berkshire County held Friday at 40, with five new new confirmed cases of the disease. To date, 544 cases have been confirmed in the county.

The state DPH reported 78 new deaths across Massachusetts, for a total of 6,718. The report added 617 confirmed cases, for a new state total of 95,512.

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PLANNERS PICK UP DOLLARS: The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will help get money provided by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey to as many as 50 businesses in the region, Laura Brennan of the commission told the State House News Service.

The office is making $500,000 available to entities across the state. The money must be distributed to small businesses and not used for overhead.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Friday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for three 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, 14 cases, three in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, two cases, none in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 63 cases, 13 in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, 21 cases, three in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, seven cases, one 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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