PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Health Systems' three COVID-19 testing centers are now open as part of the state's Stop the Spread Program for free community testing.
Access to COVID-19 testing, either through the Stop the Spread program or for symptomatic testing, is by appointment only. Individuals MUST call the BHS COVID-19 Hotline, 855-BMC-LINK, or 855-262-5465, which is available daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Stop the Spread is a cost-free surveillance testing for individuals who are asymptomatic and want to be tested for COVID-19.
The announcement comes at a time when the state is well into its "second surge" of COVID-19 cases and was paired with an announcement that, effective Friday, hospitals across the commonwealth will be cutting back on elective, in-patient procedures.
Stop the Spread is aimed to provide expanded testing in communities where positive test rates are above the state average and testing volume has fallen off. Berkshire County has seen a dramatic increase in cases since the beginning of November, though still below the state average that has continued to climb.
BHS set up the first testing center outside Berkshire Medical Center and added two more testing centers — one in Great Barrington and one in North Adams — over the summer. They have largely been used for screening patients.
The centers will continue to operate as the primary community testing sites for Berkshire Health Systems and have expanded hours to accommodate an estimated additional 1,000 tests per week countywide.
Testing will also continue to be conducted at the three centers for those who symptomatic or had close contact with someone who has tested COVID-19 positive, the cost of which will be covered by the individual’s insurer.
Stop the Spread provides for free and expanded community testing for anyone who qualifies under the state program. A similar program was operated in the spring for anyone who had attended the large protests that occurred after the killing of George Floyd in police custody.
Two of the three BHS Testing Centers are located in an indoor setting, with the third moving indoors on Dec. 17. The centers are located in:
Pittsfield: 505 East St., St Luke's Square, adjacent to BHS Urgent Care; open daily from 8:30 to 4.
North Adams: 98 Church St., next to the North Adams Library; open daily from 8:30 to 4.
Great Barrington: Drive-thru tent at 10 Maple Ave. until Thursday, Dec. 17; open daily from 8 to noon
Great Barrington: Opens Dec. 17 at 475 Main St., next to the Police Department; open daily from 8 to noon.
All centers will be closed on Christmas and New Year's Day.
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North Adams Vaccine Clinic Passes 16,000 Doses Given
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 16,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered through the Northern Berkshire vaccine clinic.
Board of Health Chairman John Meaney, who as general manager of Northern Berkshire EMS has been part of the group operating the clinic, said it wasn't clear how many North Adams residents that included.
As of last week, more than 5,000 residents in North Adams and Clarksburg had received at least one dose. The state tracks inoculations by ZIP code, which the city and town share, and may also include the town of Florida. The Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative is open to any Massachusetts residents and those who work or attend school here but reside in other states.
The clinic has been able to administer double the number of doses when it first opened, with more than 1,500 per clinic last week. But the number is dependent on the doses the collaborative gets from the state.
The General Government budget is up 12 percent, or $156,083, over this year's budget of $1,245,525. Bernard reminded the committee that this year's budget line had been reduced by moving some items to reserve accounts to balance the full budget for what was expected to be a tough fiscal year... click for more
The program is open to high school and post-secondary students ages 14 to 22 with a documented disability. The program's goal is to equip students with the skills they need to enter the post highschool world.
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