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The Checkup: Time to hug some grandchildren

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The Berkshire Eagle

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

SHE FOUGHT COVID-19, AND SHE WON: Several readers of The Checkup got in touch Thursday with the same question. How is it, they asked by phone and email, that a woman who survived a life-and-death struggle with COVID-19 was released from a hospital just this week — and yet that hospital recently reported many days without a current coronavirus patient?

The answer is all part of Michele Drysgola's epic struggle against the disease. Her story was documented in an article Wednesday in The Eagle by reporter Christopher Parker, the day after she was escorted home by a line of Pittsfield police cruisers.

Drysgola, a nurse at Berkshire Medical Center since 2004, received life-saving care at the hospital for 104 days. She endured two long stretches on a ventilator and was in and out of intensive care.

For most of that time, she was listed as a COVID-19 patient. But not the whole time — and for good reason. She beat it.

Michael Leary, the hospital's director of media relations, said that this patient tested negative for COVID-19 for the past several weeks, leading to her no longer being listed as a current coronavirus patient.

But that's the backstory. According to Parker's account, she's now looking forward. "My goal for the next few months is to get stronger, and hug my grandchildren as much as I can," she said.

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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. Thursday's figures:

- Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.7, down 94 percent

- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 566, down 84 percent

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- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 6, down 74 percent

- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 13, down 92 percent

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County's death toll stood at 45 as of Thursday. The confirmed COVID-19 case count was 616, the state Department of Public Health said.

The DPH said 11 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 8,163. The number of confirmed cases rose 143 to 106,271. Meantime, probable cases (a separate tally) rose by 91 to 6,310.

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The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 386 (58); Hampshire, 1,015 (119); Hampden, 7,077 (680).

As of Thursday, 23,760 cases have been confirmed among residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The DPH said 368 facilities have had at least one confirmed case and have seen 5,312 deaths linked to COVID-19.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Thursday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for one patient, not in intensive care. Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had zero cases.

The COVID-19 patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, six cases, one in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, two cases, none in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 14 cases, one in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, two cases, both in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, eight cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, zero cases.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

Statewide, as of Thursday there were 557 people hospitalized, with the latest daily admission of 315 people. Of those hospitalized, 77 are in ICU and 38 are on ventilators.

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


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