PITTSFIELD, Mass. — COVID-19 cases in Pittsfield are trending downward to rates that have not been seen since the middle of March.
Mayor Linda Tyer said during her regular update Friday on Pittsfield Community Television that the city's positivity rate has dropped to 0.44 percent in the past 14 days.
"This is certainly excellent news, and it reflects our effort in keeping each other safe," Tyer said. "Although we think we may have conquered COVID, we know better. We cannot let our guard down and reverse course."
In Tyer's last address earlier this month, she said rates were increasing toward levels seen in early August.
Now, she said, Pittsfield has had fewer than five new cases in two weeks. This reflects the lowest risk category level in the state's COVID Community-Level Data Map, dropping the city from the green category to gray. The entire county is now in the gray for each community have less than five cases.
Tyer said the city's Department of Public Health continues to act on every business violation report. She said upon the first infraction the city provides education to the business. Subsequent infractions come with a written warning, then fines, and then suspension of licenses.
She said the city has done nearly 90 investigations and that, in general, businesses are adhering to the guidelines.
The mayor had some good news and said the city has received another $475,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act money for economic relief and recovery. She said in total the city has now received near $1.2 million in CARES Act money.
She also noted that, Tuesday, Sept. 15, marked the official first day of school for the city's students.
"This year, especially, our teachers, students and families are certainly experiencing many new things," she said. "Behind the scenes, there has been a great deal of planning and energy on the part of many people to make the first day of school a special experience."
The Pittsfield Public Schools opted to start the year fully remote and transition into a hybrid education model if health data allows.
Tyer said the district has grown in terms of remote learning and has learned a lot since quickly going remote in March when the novel coronavirus pandemic first hit.
"We learned a lot this spring when we launched for the first time ever remote learning, and the first remote learning platform left a lot to be desired," she said. "But through sheer determination, our school administrators and teachers have created a much more robust remote learning environment."
While students are learning remotely, Tyer said the city is getting the schools ready for re-entry. She said air quality is being tested and air filtration systems are being cleaned.
Tyer also reminded residents of the new mandatory water use restrictions now that the drought has decreased reservoir levels 8 feet below full.
"We appeal to all of you to continue your careful stewardship of our water resources to slow any further decline," she said.
These restrictions began Wednesday.
Tyer said the city is still exploring winter sheltering facilities to help accommodate COVID-19 social distancing guidelines as well as looking for more permanent solutions for the homeless population.
Also, the city has received nearly $239,000 in Shared Streets and Spaces grant money from the state Department of Transportation for projects in the downtown to enhance pedestrian access and outdoor dining and other activities because the pandemic.
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The first public meeting on the master plan was held Wednesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is developing plans to make Pittsfield safer and more accessible to bicycling.
The first public meeting for the Pittsfield Bicycle Facilities Master Plan was held on Wednesday but the plan has been in the works for the last year or two, said City Planner CJ Hoss.
Though Pittsfield has a few areas with bike lanes or shared road lanes, the city would like to take a more progressive approach with simple roadwork projects or more extensive plans in the future to try and take on more ambitious, safer bike facilities.
"There's a need to take a citywide approach," Hoss said.
The overall vision is to create a safe, comfortable, and accessible bicycle network in the to serve people of all ages and abilities. This is broken down into four project goals of safety, accessibility, sense of place and sustainability.
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Much of Berkshire Community College's original establishment is because of the work done by former state Rep. Thomas C. Wojtkowski of Pittsfield, who represented what was then the 5th Berkshire District.
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