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Pittsfield to Test Sewage For COVID-19

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will test sewage for COVID-19 at the wastewater treatment plant.
Mayor Linda Tyer announced in her weekly update Friday that the city will utilize a new method to monitor for the novel coronavirus: sewage testing. 
"Research indicates that sewage testing analyzes epidemiological trends. We will have an early warning by detecting the resurgence of the coronavirus in the city’s sewage," she said. "We will be able to anticipate and respond rapidly and effectively to any possible new outbreaks even before positive test cases are identified." 
She said the city is utilizing a Boston-based company called Biobot Analytics and have already conducted one of the two baseline tests.
In the fall and winter, it will test twice a month.
Tyer noted Richmond, Dalton, Hinsdale, Lenox, and Lanesborough also use the city’s plant.
The mayor also went through some quick updates and said since her last update there week before, there have been seven new COVID-19 cases in Pittsfield.
She reminded residents that although the public health data in the commonwealth is trending in the right direction, residents still need to adhere to state travel restrictions and guidance with cases spiking in many states.
She noted that the state is now in Phase 3 and will likely stay until in that phase for some time.
"We cannot afford to let our guard down," she said. "Phase 3 is expected to be with us for a while and phase 4 will not start until a vaccine to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is available or other proven forms of medical remediation is in place."
She did note residents and city businesses have adhered to state guidance. She said the Board of Health has been happy with people’s willingness to wear masks when unable to social distance.
During her videoed update the mayor also announced:
The Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a "Make your own summer of fun" line up in city parks. A list of the Board of Health approved activities can be found here.
Residents are also encouraged to send photos of themselves finding safe ways to enjoy the summer. These photos may be featured on Downtown Pittsfield’s social media platforms.
"It is a small thing that has a big impact ... lets keep finding those moments of joy," the mayor said.
• Earlier in the week, the governor signed an election law bill that expands mail-in and early voting options. Early voting for the September primary begins Aug. 22 and ends the 28.
Early voting for the November general election begins Oct .17. 
All voters who want to cast an absentee ballot will be able to do so after filling out application that voters will receive by mail. These should be sent out on July 15.
•  That residents should be aware of the mosquito-borne equine encephalitis virus. The governor detailed the state’s effort to address this virus after EEE and other like viruses after a case was found in Franklin County.
More information can be found here

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Pittsfield City Council to Discuss Homeless Solutions

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday sent a group of petitions regarding the city's homeless population to the subcommittee on Public Health and Safety.
The three petitions ask officials to consider measures to safeguard the homeless and begin a conversation about homelessness within the city limits.
"I am glad we are having this discussion, and I look forward to hearing it," Councilor at Large Peter White said. "This has been an issue here for a long time and having people live in the park is not a long terms solution."
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