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Mayor Linda Tyer shows the City Council the data on the decline of COVID-19 transmission in the city.

Pittsfield Enters 'Green' Risk Category for COVID-19, Metrics Improving

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield is now in the green category for having less than four COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people and Berkshire Medical Center currently has no patients hospitalized for the virus.

Mayor Linda Tyer announced these declining statistics to the City Council on Tuesday, less than a week before a bulk of the state COVID-19 restrictions are lifted on Saturday, May 29.

"This is a really great momentum for all of us," she said. "Since my last report to you on May 11, we've had three days during that 14-day period with zero positive cases, and that's quite something to have three days without any positive cases."

The current estimated active case count is 10, which is down from 25 two weeks ago. The 14-day average case rate per 100,000 is 6.5 percent compared to Tyer's last update two weeks ago when it was 16.9 percent.

The positivity rate is now 1.23 percent, which is down from 2.59 percent.

Through May 23 there is a "really beautiful downward yellow line" on the case data chart from the beginning of the pandemic, Tyer said. Reportedly, the last time the city was in such great shape was Feb. 23, 2021 — just before it experienced a spike — and around Oct. 23 and 25 before the post-Halloween spike.

Tyer reported that there are currently zero patients hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center for the virus, which is a "really great milestone for our community."

The state reported that 60 percent of Pittsfield has gotten their first dose of the vaccine and 46 percent are fully vaccinated. This is driving positive outcomes in terms of transmission, Tyer said.

In her last COVID-19 update, she indicated a hope that the city would reach 50 percent full vaccination by this meeting, which it did not. Though the vaccination rates are promising, Tyer said there are people who have not returned for their second dose to become fully vaccinated.

"That distinction in our projections versus actual is related to that pattern," She added.

The mayor also gave an update on the scaling down of vaccination clinics that were announced last week. After six months of vigorous vaccination, the clinics in Pittsfield, North Adams, and Great Barrington will scale down operations gradually over the next month.

First doses of the vaccine will be offered through both scheduled and walk-in appointments at all clinics through Thursday, May 27. After this, the clinics will discontinue first dose appointments but will deliver second doses until late June.

Also in June, the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative will shift to smaller pop-up clinics in community locations to reach populations that have pockets of unvaccinated individuals. Vaccination will also be available every day of the week from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Pittsfield COVID-19 testing center at 505 East St.

On Monday, May 24, the state began an expansion of its home-bound vaccination programs to support in-home vaccinations for all eligible residents who are not able to get to a vaccine site.

This expansion is to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations and it also supports Gov. Charlie Baker's goal to make COVID-19 vaccines readily available to everyone regardless of their circumstances.

Tyer also touched on the state's COVID-19 restrictions that will be lifted on Saturday, May 29.  All industry sectors — besides schools and congregate living facilities — will be able to resume normal operations with 100 percent capacity on this day and the mask mandate will no longer be in effect in these sectors for fully vaccinated residents.

There is a mask advisory for those who have not been vaccinated and people in schools and congregate living facilities will still have to wear a mask.

City Hall will fully open to the public on Tuesday, June 1, as well as the Berkshire Athenaeum and the Senior Center. Employees and visitors who have been fully vaccinated will not be required to wear a mask in municipal offices but those who feel more comfortable masked are welcomed to wear one.

"As we've been doing since March of 2020, we will continue to monitor public health data and any state guidance that comes our way," Tyer said. "And we will certainly keep you informed of that as we learn more about those."  

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Berkshire NAACP President Reflects on Juneteenth Origins, Plans Rally

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Juneteenth was celebrated Saturday for the first time as a local, state, and national holiday.  
The city of Pittsfield added the holiday to its municipal roster in May, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill making Juneteenth a state holiday last July, and President Biden signed a bill making it a national holiday on Thursday.
Berkshire NAACP President Dennis Powell spoke to iBerkshires about the origins of the date and its implications in modern-day society.
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