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The Checkup: Pittsfield named one of the best cities to live post-COVID by Business Insider

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The Berkshire Eagle

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

LUCKY 13? Online publications roll out the listicle machine too often, but we'll take note of this finding: Business Insider recently named Pittsfield one of the best places to live "after the coronavirus."

They didn't say when that would be. The formula favored low population density, relatively affordable living costs, a low pre-COVID-19 jobless rate and other factors, including public school spending and the share of adults over 25 with college degrees.

Pittsfield came in at 13 in the 21-city countdown (1 being the best city), with this bare-bones mention:

"Pittsfield's pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 3.4 percent was close to the national rate in February. The city's cost of living is also only 1.6 percent lower than the national average." OK, so nothing exceptional there. Then this: "Of the cities in the Northeast, the city has the sixth-lowest population density of around 135 people per square mile," the publication said.

That apparently boosted Pittsfield up the list.

Rochester, N.Y., placed first, followed by regional neighbors Ithaca and Syracuse. Burlington, Vt., came in at 6th place and Albany, N.Y., at 10th.

Reasonable question: If this is all "after" the virus, why does population density matter?

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: 1.8 percent, down 94 percent

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 509, down 86 percent

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 6, down 71 percent

- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 12, down 92 percent

TWO WEEK LOOKBACK: The Eagle is also providing results for a 14-day lookback on some leading indicators. As of Wednesday, 1.77 percent of tests over a seven-day period were positive, a decline of 6.83 percent from two weeks ago. The three-day average of the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals was 509.33 the state said, a 18.98 percent decline. The three-day average of confirmed COVID-19 deaths was 12 statewide, a decline of 28 percent from this time two weeks ago.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County's death toll held at 45 as of Wednesday. The confirmed COVID-19 case count was 626, the state Department of Public Health said.

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The DPH said 18 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 8,249. The number of confirmed cases rose 192 to 107,413. Meantime, probable cases (a separate tally) rose by 95 as of Wednesday to 6,907.

The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 390 (57); Hampshire, 1,063 (125); Hampden, 7,180 (680).

As of Tuesday, 23,900 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities. In total, 369 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 5,387 deaths linked to COVID-19.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Wednesday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for two patients, neither of them in intensive care. Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington reported zero cases.

The COVID-19 patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, seven cases, none of them in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, five cases, one in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 12 cases, two in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, two cases, one in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, eight cases, one in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, three cases, none in ICU.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

Statewide, as of Tuesday there were 532 people hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 290 people. Of those hospitalized, 63 are in ICU and 37 are on ventilators.

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COMMUNITY DATA: Here are the latest figures from the DPH on confirmed coronavirus cases by city and town. This week there were two new cases in both Lee and Pittsfield, and one new case each in Clarksburg, North Adams and Stockbridge.

In alphabetical order, here are results for communities with five or more cases. After community name, the figures list number of cases, number of new cases in the past 14 days, total number of tests, number of tests in the past 14 days and percentage of positive tests in the past 14 days:

Adams: 35, 0, 912, 207, 0 percent

Becket: 16, less than 5, 216, 44, 2.27 percent

Clarksburg: 8, less than 5, 152, 41, 4.88 percent

Dalton: 16, 0, 893, 152, 0 percent

Egremont: 5, 0, 113, 18, 0 percent

Great Barrington: 73, 0, 1752, 244, 0 percent

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Lanesborough: 8, 0, 351, 82, 0 percent

Lee: 21, less than 5, 864, 159, 1.89 percent

Lenox: 14, less than 5, 1169, 158, 0.63 percent

New Marlborough: 7, 0, 122, 25, 0 percent

North Adams: 48, less than 5, 1453, 307, 0.98 percent

Pittsfield: 188, 5, 7620, 1532, 0.39 percent

Richmond: 5, 0, 168, 35, 0 percent

Sheffield: 15, 0, 400, 93, 0 percent

Stockbridge: 15, less than 5, 362, 67, 1.49 percent

West Stockbridge: 5, 0, 179, 44, 0 percent

Williamstown: 83, 0, 1248, 160, 0 percent

These communities had fewer than five cases (the DPH does not list numbers in that range for communities of under 50,000 people): Alford, Cheshire, Florida, Hancock, Hinsdale, Monterey, Otis, Peru, Sandisfield, Savoy, Tyringham and Washington.

The following towns had no reported cases: Mount Washington, New Ashford and Windsor.

The number of cases statewide increased from 106,128 to 107,221 in the week from July 15 to July 22.

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


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