NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The novel coronavirus has claimed its first Berkshire County victim, according to the Department of Public Health.
The number of those who have died in the state now stands at five, including the man from Berkshire County who was reportedly in his 70s.
The first death reported as a result of COVID-19 was on Friday, a man in his 80s from Suffolk County, and on Saturday, a woman in her 50s from Middlesex County.
DPH reported on Sunday that three more people died: the Berkshire County man, a man in his 70s from Hampden County and a man in his 90s from Suffolk County.
All three had been hospitalized.
"The Berkshire County man was reported to have an underlying health condition, but all three men were in an age group that is more likely to experience severe disease from COVID-19 regardless of prior health status," the state Department of Public Health said in a press release on Sunday afternoon.
As of 4 p.m. on Sunday, there were 23 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Berkshire County. The first case confirmed in Western Massachusetts was a Clarksburg man who had been hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center for nearly a week before a positive test came back.
Some 646 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Massachusetts at this point, with the largest number —199 — in Middlesex County, followed by Suffolk with 126.
The genders of those infected is about even, with 308 women and 338 men. Nearly two-thirds are between 30 and 60 years of age.
The DPH says COVID-19 activity is increasing in the state.
"At this time, if people are only mildly symptomatic, they should speak to their health-care provider about whether they need to be assessed in person," according to the press release. "If not, they should stay at home while they are sick. Asymptomatic family members should practice social distancing and immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms."
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March 28 COVID-19 Briefs: Public Parks Push Passive Use
Group Games Banned in Public Parks
Communities including North Adams have been removing hoop rims to discourage youth congregating at public parks.
Reminder that playgrounds and sports facilities are closed during the state of emergency. Walking paths, fields and benches are still open but group activities and sports such as basketball are prohibited. Playground equipment is not being sanitized and should be used. Remember to maintain social distancing of 6 feet or more.
North Adams Administrative Officer Michael Canales said the hoop rims were removed from parks including Noel Field and UNO because young people were gathering there.
"Right now parks only for passive recreation," he said. "We removed the rims because even if they're passing a basketball between them, they're making contact through the ball. ... We want them to socially distance."
North Adams has installed large signs at the parks reminding residents of the rules but Canales acknowledged it has been difficult to enforce at the skate park.
The online tool developed by Buoy Health allows users to enter information about symptoms they may be feeling and directs them to resources that are available to them, like testing for the novel coronavirus, if it is recommended.
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The state has found itself bidding against other states as well as the federal government in trying to find materials, particularly personal protective equipment desperately needed by medical facilities and first-responders.
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