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North Adams Keeping Eye on Coronavirus Spread

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases but not enough to implement drastic actions being initiated by Pittsfield. 
 
"We're looking at the uptick here, which is modest comparatively, but we want to just really keep the keep our eyes open on all of this," said Mayor Thomas Bernard on Thursday. "We're going to stay with the operations as they stand. Our numbers are low enough."
 
Pittsfield, the county's largest community, has moved all schools to remote and suspended table service at restaurants. The Health Department has issued orders that all venues return to Step 1 of the state's Phase 3 reopening, which means reduced capacity for indoor and outdoor gatherings. 
 
North Adams has remained in the lowest category with eight new cases in the past two weeks and six in the to weeks prior to that for a total of 75 to date. In contrast, the county logged 159 new cases in the past two weeks, the bulk of those in Pittsfield. 
 
"The businesses are doing, by and large, a very good job with with compliance," Bernard said, adding officials have been "hypervigilant" for six months and were now the next level, whatever that would be called. "I think part of the problem with what happened in Pittsfield was these parties that happened."
 
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer has said a large part of the outbreaks have been traced back to recent parties, including two at local restaurants. A staff member at Reid Middle School as well as a student at Pittsfield High School tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 
 
North Adams had a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Drury High School this week and moved all Grade 7 and 8 students to remote learing until Thursday, Nov. 19. Hoosac Valley Regional School District also reported a case but it did not affect the school. Adams and Cheshire have both had fewer than five cases in the last two weeks. 
 
Bernard said the North County COVID-19 operations center, made up of local officials and public health personnel, had a confrence call on Thursday morning. He said one of the things they are nervous about is that if people can't dine in in Pittsfield they may head north. 
 
"I don't want to be unwelcoming or inhospitable, I don't want to put even more burden on our restaurants than already exists for so many of them," he said. "But at the same time, I really hope that the support they see is primarily from people right here in our community."
 
The mayor had expressed his concern at Tuesday's City Council meeting over rising cases in the county and gatherings at the city's outdoor venues. 
 
"One area of particular concern for me and I know it's a concern for for several members of the council and members of the community, especially this past weekend with the unseasonably nice weather with the skate park. We saw large crowds and limited compliance," he said. "I saw it for myself, the Police Department made several visits. But with our young people, the focus really is especially on encouragement rather than draconian enforcement."
 
He made a "pitch for personal responsibility" and asked everyone to continue wearing masks and social distancing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

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Some Brayton Students Switch to Remote After Positive Case

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The North Adams Public Schools informed the school community on Monday that it had learned of a positive case of COVID-19 at Brayton School. Children have not been in the classrooms at Brayton since Tuesday; the half-day Wednesday starting the Thanksgiving holiday was a remote-learning day.
 
A letter from Superintendent Barbara Malkas said cleaning and disinfecting of exposed locations will be completed according to state and federal guidelines. All students and staff who were in contact with the infected individual have been notified through contact tracing. 
 
Staff and cohort A (Mondays & Tuesdays) students who were notified will be eligible to return to school on Dec. 7.
Students in cohort B (Thursdays & Fridays) who were notified will be eligible to return to school on Dec. 10.
 
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