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Interim Director of Public Health Andy Cambi updates the City Council on COVID-19 statistics on Tuesday.

Pittsfield COVID Hospitalizations Rise, City in Slight Downward Trend

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is seeing a slight downward trend in COVID-19 cases but hospitalizations have increased in the last month.

Interim Director of Public Health Andy Cambi told the City Council on Tuesday that there were 14 hospitalizations at Berkshire Medical Center in the last week. Four weeks ago the numbers were in single digits.

Intensive care patients have remained low, ranging from three to zero.

There have been regular fluctuations with COVID-19 cases but the city is currently in a downward swing at 12 new cases to date.

The city reached a high point on Sept. 15 with 24 new cases and dropped down to five on Sept. 18.  

At the Sept. 14 council meeting, Cambi reported a COVID death in the city and said it is "not where we want to be" with the virus.

After experiencing another rise and drop, there were 12 new cases reported Tuesday, Sept. 28.

At the city's highest point on Nov. 28, 2020, there were 73 new cases.

Cambi told the City Council that Pittsfield had a good day on Sept. 26 with zero new cases reported.

"We did double-check that five times and it was zero," he added.

The city remains in the yellow incidence rate for 10 or more cases per 100,000 people and has a percent positivity rate of 2.6. The average daily case rate is 26.8 and there are 52 estimated actively contagious cases.

Vaccinations have increased by one percent with 74 percent of individuals partially vaccinated and 65 percent fully vaccinated. About two weeks ago, the city was at a 73 percent vaccination rate for people who have received their first shot and 64 percent for fully vaccinated.

Cambi confirmed that booster vaccinations have been approved but the city does not have information on whether they are going to be administered here.

"You can visit the CDC website to do a self-assessment for you to see if you meet the requirements to get a booster shot," he added.

In other news, Finance Director Matthew Kerwood told the council that COVID "dramatically changed" the landscape for the downtown parking meters.

This was in response to a petition from Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi requesting a parking review and report on the performance of the parking kiosks that were installed in 2017.

The city is going to be entering into a new contract with the previous consultant for the parking meters.  Reportedly, the pandemic hindered the consultants from being able to bring information from a parking meter study started in 2019 back to the council.  

The study evaluated the effectiveness of the parking system.

Kerwood said it needs to be re-examined because of the pandemic's effects on parking. This will require the consultant to do additional work that goes beyond the scope of the project.

"In some respects, you can almost think of this as a change order in terms of the revision of the scope of services," he explained. "It's easier to do as a new contract but essentially they'll be picking up where they left off and re-examining that evaluation, and then applying that to the scenario we find ourselves today in a post-pandemic world, in terms of what impacts that will have on our parking systems, specifically downtown parking systems."

The original contract was for around $25,000 and the new project was quoted for around $18,000.

Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell were displeased that they couldn’t be provided with performance information specific to parking meters that were speculated to be underperforming.  

Kerwood said that in evaluating the whole system, the study takes into account any problem areas.


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BCC Sees Increase in Enrollment Count

PITTSFIELD, Mass — Berkshire Community College (BCC) recently released its enrollment data for fall 2021 — a season still  impacted by COVID-19, but with a growing number of first-year and continuing students. 
 
 Key findings include: 
  • Overall enrollment is up 1.4 percent over 2020 
  • The first-year student population is up 16.4 percent 
  • Continuing students are up 3.9 percent 
  • Full-time equivalent (FTE) students are down 1.2 percent 
  • Readmitted students (those who leave college for less than a year and reapply) are down 27.27 percent
The number of non-degree-seeking students has also grown, largely due to BCC's Early College program, which offers up to 15 free college credits to high school juniors and seniors. BCC has increased the number eligible students for the program.  
 
"I'm thrilled that our new student and continuing student numbers are up. The BCC team has worked so hard to create an environment during the pandemic in which students could continue to thrive," said Adam Klepetar, BCC Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. "We continue to operate successfully in a very challenging enrollment environment, with decreases in the number of high school graduates and increases in competition." 
 
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