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The Checkup: State DPH no longer listing county death totals

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

THE NUMBERS: For the first time in months, the state Department of Public Health did not report county-level totals Wednesday on coronavirus cases and deaths. Instead, in a weekly report, the DPH listed the number of new deaths by county in the previous two weeks (July 26 to Aug. 8). Given the information provided, the death count remained at 46 in Berkshire County.

Here are the totals on deaths in the recent two-week period for the four western counties:

Berkshire: 0

Franklin: 0

Hampshire: 0

Hampden: 5

The DPH also debuted a new accounting format for countywide data. Here are the results for Berkshire County:

Total cases since Jan. 1: 626

Cases in last 14 days: 20

Average daily incidence in last 14 days: 1.12

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Relative change in case count: Lower

Total tests taken: 26,270

Total tests last 14 days: 4,385

Total positive tests last 14 days: 24

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Percent of positive tests: 0.55

Change in percent positivity: Lower

The DPH said 18 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 8,547. The number of confirmed cases rose 229 to 113,198. The number of probable cases over the previous week rose 530 to 8,802.

As of Wednesday, 24,542 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities. In all, 377 facilities (an increase of one over Tuesday) have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 5602 deaths linked to COVID-19, an increase of 17.

In a statement late Wednesday, the DPH provided this explanation for the change in how it reports data: "The daily report has been streamlined to highlight the particular data points most useful to track the daily impact of the virus. Data points that had been previously provided daily because of their utility earlier in the pandemic — but which are less meaningful day-to-day—have been consolidated in the weekly Public Health Report."

LEADING INDICATORS: The state DPH provides the following statistics daily as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Each provides a number and then — in a new reporting format — a change in either the count or "lowest observed value." (Previously, the DPH compared all figures to April 15 data.)

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- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.5, no change.

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 396, 10 percent increase.

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 3, up 3.

- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 12, up 9 percent.

TWO WEEK LOOKBACK: The Eagle is also calculating results for a 14-day lookback on some leading indicators. As of Wednesday, positive tests over a seven-day period showed a 21.95 percent drop from two weeks ago. The three-day average of the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals represented a 7.7 percent increase. The three-day average of confirmed COVID-19 deaths fell 22.22 percent from two weeks ago.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Wednesday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for no patients, while Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had one case in ICU.

The COVID-19 patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, two cases, neither in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, no cases; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 47 cases (an increase of nine over Tuesday), three in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, nine cases, two in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, six cases, two in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, one case, not in ICU.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

Statewide, as of Wednesday there were 422 people hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 213 people. Of those hospitalized, 64 are in ICU and 33 are on ventilators.

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


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