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Mayor Tyer: Pittsfield Making Progress Against Virus But Threat Remains

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer on Friday asked residents not to be lulled by the number of novel coronavirus cases and to stay the course.
Tyer, during her weekly COVID-19 update on Pittsfield Community Television, said although there have been no new cases in three days, residents need to remain vigilant. 
"We have made incredible progress in slowing the spread of the virus but COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat to our health and that point cant be understated," the mayor said.
She pointed out that Berkshire County saw seven new cases during that period of time. 
Pittsfield's numbers recently have remained fairly flat. Since the first two cases were reported on March 9, the city's total number of cases jumped to 96 one month later. In comparison, the past month has seen about 42 new cases. Five Pittsfielders have died but 108 have recovered. 
The mayor also asked residents continue to adhere to the mask order even if they feel fine. She said an estimated 45 percent of infections come from presymptomatic carriers.
"That means you can feel healthy and have no signs of illness and still carry the virus posing harm to someone," she said. "Where a mask ... it is a small action that can have a big impact."
Tyer said much of the future is still unknown and Pittsfield is still awaiting word from the governor's reopening advisory board. The board, organized a couple of weeks ago with representatives from a wide range of fields, has been taking testimony from businesses and organizations on their needs and capabilities for opening safely. 
"We are all getting restless and concerned about the economy ... many people are out of work and these are difficult times and we will reopen using the governor's recommendation," she said.
She clarified that May 18 is not a reopening date but only a day to take another look at the situation with input from the governor's board. Gov. Charlie Baker had extended his stay-home order to May 18, when the board is expected to produce a report for a phased reopening.
Even when the city reopens, residents will still have to take preventive measures and adapt to the "new normal," she said. 
On the education front, Pittsfield Public Schools is also awaiting input from the state to inform graduation plans and it is developing a plan to empty lockers, for which information will be forthcoming.
Looking back, Tyer said nearly 2,000 Chromebooks were safely handed out this week to students learning from home.
She said those who still need a Chromebook can visit the district's website. This must be done before Sunday.
Tyer also urged residents to answer calls from the state's Community Tracer Program. The program is using testing and tracing to help track and contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"Please take the call," she said. "It will be a conversation that will provide critical information to support your health and those around you."
She said calls will show a prefix of 833857 or show on the caller ID as MA COVID Team.
Tyer also acknowledged the "groundswell" of kindness to come out of the pandemic and thanked volunteers, businesses, and organizations for stepping up to do their part to support the community.
"Everyone in their own way is finding a way to pitch in," she said. "It doesn't have to be elaborate it just means doing your part and we are almost there so please stay the course."
Tyer concluded by wishing a happy Mothers' Day this Sunday.
"May your day be filled with love, laughter, and cherished moments," she said. "At a safe distance of course."

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Pittsfield City Council Rejects Petition to Remove Connell

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council denied a petition aimed to remove Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell by claiming he no longer lived in Pittsfield.
Late into the six-hour meeting Tuesday, councilors came to the agreement that although Connell is spending much of his time quarantining out of state, his primary residence is still in Pittsfield.  
"I just want to thank you all for your kind support and thought and I will continue to do the best that I can for this council and this city," Connell said at the meeting's close around 1 in the morning. 
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