The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority has instituted social distancing while riding. Signs will be posted in all vehicles prohibiting seating directly behind the vehicle operator, unless a mobility device prevents sitting elsewhere.
As of this moment, there have been no changes to any BRTA bus routes or schedules.
All BRTA vehicles and both facilities receive daily cleaning using products that are effective against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Public use of the Intermodal Transportation Center has been limited to those utilizing BRTA's bus service, intercity bus, or Amtrak.
Tables and seating at the ITC have been removed or set farther apart to encourage social distancing.
Pittsfield Parks Open But Games Not Allowed
Pittsfield's public parks, fields and courts, with the exception of playground equipment, will remain open for passive use. No congregate activities or game playing is allowed. Playground equipment is closed until further notice as these surfaces are not sanitized.
As a reminder, maintain a distance of 6 feet from other people while enjoying these spaces. These guidelines are effective immediately until further notice. Visit the city's COVID-19 page for more information.
SVMC Taking Further Precautions
Southwestern Vermont Medical Center had four additional patients test positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
"We have been focused on a plan to address an increase of COVID-19 patients in our region," said Trey Dobson, SVMC's chief medical officer. "We have an incredible team of professionals working to keep one step ahead of this."
The ambulance bay and other locations in the Bennington, Vt., hospital have been turned into Respiratory Evaluation Centers (REC). Additional work has increased the number of negative-pressure isolation rooms available at SVMC.
Beginning Wednesday, March 25, visitations will be allowed only for partners of expectant mothers, parents of pediatric patients, and relatives of patients at the end of life. Electronic devices with video communication capabilities will be available by request.
COVID-19 testing, per the Vermont Department of Health, has been prioritized for hospitalized patients, vulnerable populations, and health-care workers who have symptoms.
Those who feel they may be infected should stay home and isolate, call ahead to their doctor or hospital, wear a facemask, use disposable tissues, wash hands often, avoid sharing household items, and disinfect common areas.
UNO Meal Site Added
North Adams Public Schools has added the UNO Community Center on River Street as the fifth location for grab-and-go meals for local children.
Breakfast and lunch will be available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to noon. The meals are free but the children must be present.
The UNO Center joins Greylock Apartments, Mohawk Forest and Brayton and Ciolegrove elementary schools as distribution locations.
Pittsfield Installs City Hall Drop Box
The city of Pittsfield has installed a secure drop box at the rear of City Hall as municipal offices are currently closed to the public through April 7. The box is located at the foot of the stairs in the rear of the building.
"The drop box is intended for correspondence that would normally have to be dropped off at City Hall," said Finance Director Matthew Kerwood.
Visit www.cityofpittsfield.org to manage business needs or call 413-449-5600 during the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for assistance. The website also has a COVID-19 update link to which the public can subscribe.
MassDCR Closes Athletic Facilities
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has temporarily closed athletic fields and courts, such as basketball, tennis, handball, pickle ball, and bocce, throughout the state parks system effective March 24 until at least Tuesday, April 7. Playgrounds and other state facilities were already closed.
State parks remain open but trash receptacles have been removed so prepary to "carry in/carry out." Visitors are advised to maintain social distancing.
Downtown Pittsfield Launches Gift Card Site
Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. has launched an online store where the public can purchase gift cards in the amount of $25, $50 or $100 to local restaurants, retailers, and cultural organizations.
The cards will help support businesses now that have been forced to close. So far, there are more than 40 businesses selling gift cards through the new online store, which you can find at business.downtownpittsfield.com/store.
If you are a Pittsfield independent business owner and would like to offer gift cards and/or have your business' status on the website, email email@example.com or call 413-443-6501.
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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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