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The Checkup: Williams College joins legal fight against international student restrictions

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The Berkshire Eagle

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

WILLIAMS JOINS ACTION AGAINST FEDERAL AGENCY: Williams College joined 58 other colleges and universities across the nation this week in legal efforts against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A request for a preliminary injunction, led by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, seeks to block the institution of a modified Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) guideline that would prohibit international students from remaining in the United States if their classes for the coming semester are online - a measure some schools are taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus on campus.

Under the modification, introduced last week and orchestrated by the Trump administration, international students now abroad would not be allowed back, and international students in the country must leave or transfer to a program with in-person classes.

The schools' motion argues that the directive, among other things, fails to consider the problems and "disruptive burdens" it imposes on students and schools and is "devoid of any reasoned explanation or justification."

The press release ICE issued last week announcing the shift does not cite any reasoning for the change.

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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. Here are Monday's figures:

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

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- Three-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 575, down 84 percent.

- Number of hospitals using surge capacity to care: 2, down 90 percent.

- Three-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 15, down 90 percent.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County's death toll remained at 45 Monday but the confirmed COVID-19 case count rose by two to 615 as of Monday, the state Department of Public Health said.

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The DPH said five new deaths were reported, pushing the statewide total to 8,115. The number of confirmed cases rose 154 to 105,783. Meantime, probable cases (a separate tally) rose by 76 as of Monday to 6,044.

The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, 384 (57); Hampshire, 1,008 (117); Hampden, 7,019 (678). There were no deaths reported Monday in any of the four western counties.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Monday, Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for one patient, not 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, five cases, two in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, one case, not in ICU; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 13 cases, two in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, nine cases, two in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, three cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

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