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North Adams Resident Dies From COVID-19 Infection

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A North Adams resident has died from complications of the novel coronavirus, according to Mayor Thomas Bernard.  
 
The individual's identity has not yet been revealed. According to the Department of Public Health, four Berkshire residents have died, including the report of a man in his 60s and a woman in her 90s on Friday. Two other deaths had been reported earlier in the week. A total of 35 people have died in Massachusetts from the coronavirus so far.
 
"Today we learned that we have experienced the first COVID-19 death in North Adams," the mayor wrote in an email to the North Adams community. "I want to begin by offering my sympathy to the family and friends of our fellow North Adams resident at this time of loss, sadness, and concern. I offer these words that will be familiar to those who share my Catholic faith, but which I hope will resonate with everyone today: May perpetual light shine on them, and may it shine on all of us, especially now as this loss has reached our community and the path ahead of us may feel unclear."
 
The mayor also noted the significant increase in cases in Berkshire County, which has seen its number of COVID-19 positives jump from 26 to 105 in five days. He anticipated that would grow as testing becomes more available. 
 
Williamstown Commons, which reported its first positive two days ago, says it now has 14 residents with the novel coronavirus. 
 
"[Thirteen] of those residents are currently under the care of a dedicated team of professionals at Williamstown, and one resident is at the hospital," Administrator Jodi Oimette posted on the nursing home's website. "At this time, 23 residents have been tested with four negative tests and five pending tests."
 
Oimette said residents are being checked at least three time daily for symptoms. Testing for the coronavirus still requires residents to be symptomatic (dry cough, shortness of breath, aches) and a temperature higher than 100 degrees. 
 
"Residents who have been tested were identified through the facility's daily health assessments and will continue to be assessed," she wrote. Those who have exhibited symptoms or tested positive have been shifted to a single unit. "Currently Williamstown Commons is adequately supplied with personal protective equipment that allows for the safe care of residents by our staff."
 
The Berkshires first case of COVID-19 was discovered on March 15 when a Clarksburg man tested positive after being the hospital for nearly a week. The news prompted the town of Clarksburg to shut down all public buildings including the school, a move that was followed by municipalities around the region in the following weeks. 
 
That first case, and a second Clarksburg individual, have both been cleared, Clarksburg Board of Health member Ron Pierce said Friday morning. 
 
Bernard called the situation at Williamstown Commons "a reminder and a wake up call that we are not immune to the risk and the threat of COVID-19. I offer my support, gratitude and admiration to the dedicated staff at the Commons.
 
"I also offer my sympathy and concern for those who are suffering with the novel coronavirus, and to the loved ones of people in our nursing homes and extended care facilities who cannot be there when friends and relatives may need them the most."
 
He encouraged residents to continue to social distance to contain the spread. 
 
"Each of us must accept our responsibility of shared sacrifice to protect our health-care system, our health-care workforce, our first-responders, and our community by continuing to do everything we can to flatten the curve of COVID-19," the mayor wrote.

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North Adams Board of Health Authorizes Police as Health Agents

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's police officers were deputized Thursday as health agents on to assist the health inspector during the pandemic.
 
"It's just something to address our current situation to expand, I guess, the capabilities of the Board of Health since the Health Department is one person," Health Director Michael Moore told the board on Thursday. "Hope for the best prepare for the worst."
 
But he and Police Chief Jason Wood wanted to make it clear that it wasn't about "shaking people down for not wearing masks or anything."
 
Wood said officers were initially guarded about the idea but consulted with their union local, Massachusetts Coalition of Police (MassCOP), and found it was not unusual.
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