Coronavirus update: death toll rises to 15 in the commonwealth

Fifteen people have died in the commonwealth as a result of a coronavirus-related illness, two of which are residents of Berkshire County.
Both county residents, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 60s, were hospitalized and had preexisting conditions, according to the state Department of Health (DPH).
The 15 people who died ranged in age from 50s to 90s and. Three of the six men were from Suffolk County, the other three from Norfolk, Hampden, and Berkshire counties. The five women were from Worcester, Essex, Middlesex, and Berkshire counties.
The number of confirmed cases of those with coronavirus disease continues to climb as the number of cases has jumped to 1,838 cases, 71 of which are in Berkshire County, according to the DPH. Middlesex County continues to have the most confirmed cases of any other county in the commonwealth with 446.
On Monday, March 23, Bard College at Simon’s Rock issued a statement saying that one of its employees had tested positive for coronavirus. This is the first confirmed case at the college, according to its statement.
“The employee was in self-isolation at home for fifteen days prior to their diagnosis,” said Jenn Frederick, director of marketing and communications at the college, in a statement. “In regard to the confirmed case, the Pittsfield Board of Health is reaching out directly to anyone who may have been in close contact with the employee.”
To return to campus, students had to fill out a petition for permission. Decisions regarding returns depended on circumstances both locally and from where students have been traveling as well as the specific need to be on campus.
“No students who had traveled to any CDC-designated Level 3 countries were approved to return to campus,” said Frederick.
The students remaining on campus have agreed to follow guidelines and instructions issued by Simon’s Rock as well as public health recommendations, including the federal and state guidelines to limit gatherings to 10 people and adhering to the recommended personal distance of at least six feet of physical distance between people in all spaces on campus, she added.
Students may leave their rooms, however, campus facilities are closed, with the exception of a few buildings that have limited access and service, such as the dining hall and mailroom. The Simon’s Rock dining hall is operating on a take-out only basis until further notice, and seating is no longer offered.
All students, including those on campus, resumed remote classes as of Monday, Frederick added.
On Sunday, March 15, the college also released a statement that a Bard College employee at its Annandale-on-Hudson, New York campus had also tested positive for the coronavirus. Frederick indicated that there is no known connection between the Annandale-on-Hudson, New York campus case and the Simon’s Rock case.
Moving forward, Great Barrington Town Manager Mark Pruhenski said that the town’s COVID-19 task force has expanded to include other health care organizations in town like CHP, VIM, Fairview Commons, Timberlyn Heights and Fairview Hospital.
“We’re all in constant communication,” said Pruhenski in a statement. “We’re holding meetings remotely every other day at this point, and all public safety disciplines and critical department heads are participating, in addition to the school district and Simon’s Rock. Besides sharing information and resources, we’re trying to push up to date information out to our residents regularly.”
The largest age group that have tested positive with the virus is those between the ages of 50 and 59 with 330 confirmed cases, followed by those between the ages of 20 and 29 with 326 cases and those between the ages of 30 and 39 with 322 cases, DPH reported.
As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 20,000 people have been tested for the virus.

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