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HomeEditor's PicksExposure update: Now 19 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in the Berkshires

Exposure update: Now 19 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in the Berkshires

In a week’s time, the number of reported Berkshire County residents that have succumbed to coronavirus disease-related illnesses has jumped from six to 19.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 433 people in Massachusetts have died from the virus, according to the state Department of Health (DPH).
On Thursday, April 2, DPH reported the death of a Berkshire County woman in her 70s, and a female and male in their 90s and a male in his 80s on Saturday, April 4.
The following day, Sunday, April 5, the agency reported that three other female Berkshire residents had succumbed to a coronavirus-related illness, including one in her 100s, one in her 90s and a third in her 60s.
On Tuesday, April 7, DPH reported five more deaths to Berkshire County residents, including three males: one in his 50s, one in his 70s and one in his 80s; and two females: one in her 90s and one in her 100s.
On Wednesday, April 8, two more county women were reported dead; one in her 90s and one in her 80s.
The number of confirmed cases of those with coronavirus disease continues to climb as the number of cases has jumped to 16,790 cases, 281 of which are in Berkshire County, according to DPH. Suffolk County now has the most confirmed cases of any other county in the commonwealth with 3,600.
Five of those confirmed cases include residents of Fairview Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, according to Lisa Gaudet, vice president of communications for the facility’s parent company, Berkshire Healthcare Systems.
Testing at the facility was first prompted when DPH reached out because the state agency had an interest in utilizing the facility as a coronavirus disease recovery center, said Gaudet.
“All five of the residents that tested positive were in private rooms in one area of the facility,” she said. “All of the residents were tested; 111 came back with negative results and one is still pending.”
Gaudet also noted that the five residents, who reside in the facility’s short-term rehabilitation unit with designated nurses, were asymptomatic. A “tracer” investigation is underway to see where the virus originated, she said. There are 120 employees at Fairview Commons and currently no reports of staff testing positive for the virus.
Since Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order closing nursing homes and assisted living facilities to the public, Fairview Commons has adapted its policies and enacted daily screening procedures for its staff, said Gaudet.
One of the Berkshire Healthcare Systems’ four facilities in the county, Williamstown Commons, has also had an outbreak of the virus. As of Wednesday morning, Gaudet said that 12 residents had died from coronavirus disease-related illness and 34 residents had tested positive. Nine members of the staff had also tested positive. Gaudet also noted that five had recovered.
Rebecca Jurczyk, health agent for Great Barrington, said that the town is monitoring the positive cases and are in communication with the director of nursing at Fairview Commons to see what their resource needs are. As of Monday, the facility indicated that it has received all it needed from DPH, said Jurczyk.
As for other numbers on a town-by-town basis, Jurczyk says DPH has strongly advised health departments not to report on the number of cases on the local level.
“We want to protect the privacy and confidentiality of those testing positive in our small and close knit community,” she said in a statement. “Every positive case is closely monitored and is either in isolation at home or in the hospital seeking medical treatment.”


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