THIS SITE LAST UPDATED - APRIL 8, 2020
BERKSHIRE HEALTH SYSTEMS HAS ESTABLISHED A TOLL-FREE HOTLINE FOR QUESTIONS REGARDING THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19). IT IS OPEN FROM 7 AM TO 7 PM SEVEN DAYS A WEEK - CALL 855-BMC-LINK, OR 855-262-5465
Below are statistics from Berkshire Medical Center & Fairview Hospital on COVID-19 in Berkshire County, which will be updated regularly. The testing numbers include inpatient, Emergency Department and drive-thru testing.
This site contains information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), both of which are maintaining a continuous monitoring of this new form of coronavirus and will update their requirements and recommendation as new information is learned about the nature and consequence of this new virus strain. We will stay in close contact with those federal and state agencies and update this website on a regular basis.
WE URGE YOU TO CHECK BACK ON THIS WEBSITE REGULARLY FOR NEW INFORMATION ABOUT THE VIRUS AND DEFENSES AGAINST IT. - Please also read this Letter to Our Patients
VISITATION CHANGES AT BERKSHIRE MEDICAL CENTER & FAIRVIEW HOSPITAL, AS OF MARCH 17, 2020
Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital have announced additional changes to visitation policies following new guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to further lower the risk of transmission of infectious disease, including the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The additional changes go into effect immediately and include:
These guidelines from the DPH are in addition to visitation changes already enacted by BMC and Fairview, which include:
The changes are temporary and visitation policies will be updated when the situation improves.
BMC and Fairview continue to use vigorous policies and procedures to address COVID-19, and all other infectious diseases, and is following guidelines from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as well.
BHS continues to operate a toll-free hotline for questions and concerns surrounding COVID-19, which is available seven days a week from 7 am to 7 pm, and is at 855-262-5465.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that have been in our environment for a very long time; some versions of this virus cause illnesses in people that range from mild to severe to potentially fatal. You are probably familiar with these viruses because human coronaviruses cause routine seasonal respiratory virus infections, including the common cold and bronchitis.
A new variation of this virus, known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory virus that was first identified in late December and has since spread to many countries around the globe, including the US. This virus variation has resulted in tens of thousands of confirmed human infections. The United States has identified a growing number of cases in people who have traveled from outbreak areas, but also those who have not traveled and appear to have been infected through community transmission. The CDC has reported that, as of April 8, 2020, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several US territories have reported a total of 395,011 cases of COVID-19 and 12,754 deaths have been attributed to the virus. The Massachusetts DPH has, as of April 8, 2020, reported 16,790 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide and 433 deaths.
As of April 7, 2020, there are 281 positive recorded cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Berkshire County that have all been classified as community transmission. Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital are fully open and serving the community, as are our physician practices and Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association. As a precaution and in line with national trends, Berkshire Health Systems has postponed several events in order to prevent large gatherings in our meeting rooms and to encourage social distancing, and has instituted an updated visitation policy (see above).
For information on the Long Term Care facilities of Berkshire Healthcare, visit their Coronavirus Website.
How does coronavirus spread?
The CDC and World Health Organization are working to determine the source of the COVID-19. As with similar viruses, this virus may be spread through droplets of fluid that a person coughs or sneezes into the air. It may be spread if an individual touches a surface with the virus on it, such as a doorknob, railing or handle, and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes. Information from CDC and MDPH about the exact nature of how COVID-19 spreads is still evolving.
Who is at risk for this version of the COVID-19?
If you’ve been to a place where people have been diagnosed with the virus, you are at risk for infection. As of February 28, 2020, the most significant risk population are people who:
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19, like other coronaviruses, causes a respiratory (lung) infection. Symptoms of this infection include:
While most people recover from this kind of infection, some infections can lead to severe disease or even death. Older people and those with pre-existing medical problems, such as diabetes, cancer or other conditions that weaken the immune system, seem to have a greater risk for severe disease. So far, children and healthy adults appear to be at less risk of severe complications.
What are the treatments? Is there a vaccine?
No antiviral treatment for COVID-19 currently exists that is known to be effective. However, supportive care to relieve flu symptoms generally may help relieve symptoms of COVID-19 as well. These include: rest, drinking lots of fluids, eating a light diet, staying at home and taking fever reducers and muscle ache relievers such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol). There is no vaccine now available to protect people from infection by COVID-19 and, given the time for development, there is not likely to be one soon. Antibiotics are not effective against COVID-19 or other viruses.
How can I protect myself and others?
Although risk in the United States from COVID-19 is currently low because of the relatively small number of people in the United States at this time who are known to have the disease, the same precautions to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect against other respiratory viruses like COVID-19, including:
Should I wear a mask when I go out in public?
As of late February 2020, the health risk in the United State remains relatively low compared to other parts of the world and, at this time, neither the CDC nor MDPH recommends that people wear masks when they are in public simply to protect against being infected by the viruses. Ordinary surgical masks may not be effective against spreading the COVID-19 virus. Specialized masks can be useful in some settings, such as a clinic waiting room, to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others. Berkshire Health Systems clinical offices plan to have such protective devices available for use when necessary. There is, however, no meaningful evidence that wearing a mask protects the wearer in settings other than those where ill persons may be present in close quarters, such as a healthcare setting.
How do you test a person for COVID-19?
Testing for COVID-19 was initally only available through a limited number of authorized sites in the country, but more recently commercial laboratories are receiving specimens and conducting tests. In the Berkshires, as of March 18, 2020, testing is still somewhat limited, but is being expanded to, in the near future, include drive-thru testing, with a physician order. This will also expand to localized testing capabilities in local labs. As this new system is developed and implemented, we will issue more information.
What should I do if I have visited a place where COVID-19 has emerged or if I had close contact with someone who has it?
If you have been in a place where there are known occurrences of COVID-19 or you have had close contact with someone who has the virus, you should call you primary care provider for advice about whether you should partially or completely avoid contact with other people, depending on the likelihood of your meaningful exposure to individuals who are ill with the disease. You should also monitor your health for 14 days after your last possible exposure or your experience of any symptoms of flu-like conditions.
Watch for these signs and symptoms: