COVID-19 | WAMC

COVID-19

A sign with directions for various departments of a hospital stands at a crossroads
Josh Landes / WAMC

With a new uptick in COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County, the region’s largest healthcare provider is renewing calls for residents to get vaccinated. Berkshire Health Systems Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Lederer says it’s safe to assume that the potent Delta variant is in the Berkshires, putting the unvaccinated in risk of serious illness, hospitalization or death. Lederer recommends mask wearing even if it’s no longer legally required, but says BHS isn’t concerned about breakthrough cases for the vaccinated at this time. He spoke with WAMC.

The main sign outside of Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Josh Landes / WAMC

Berkshire County’s largest healthcare provider says COVID-19 activity is trending upwards in the community.

The COVID-19 vaccine moves from cold storage at the Department of Health to coolers and is transported to the TU Center for mass vaccination clinics.
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

Colleges across the country are determining their fall semester COVID-19 policies for students, faculty and staff. The University of Vermont Board of Trustees endorsed a policy that will require students be vaccinated by the time they arrive on campus for the fall semester.

UVM Medical Center main entrance
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont’s largest hospital is reminding people that even though the state has eliminated all pandemic restrictions, masks must be worn at its health centers.

A woman in a blue dress stands behind a podium in front of a row of people and a trio of local, state, and federal flags
Josh Landes / WAMC

On March 12th, 2020, Pittsfield, Massachusetts Mayor Linda Tyer announced a state of emergency as the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic hit home. On Tuesday, both Pittsfield and the commonwealth formally ended the state of emergency and rescinded all remaining pandemic restrictions. Tyer spoke with WAMC about the milestone, what the pandemic cost the city, and the potential lasting impacts of COVID-19.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Screen grab by Ian Pickus / WAMC

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he’s lifting all remaining state COVID-19 restrictions, including requirements for mask wearing and social distancing, and capacity limits at events, now that New York has reached the governor’s goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

Sculpture by Tom Fruin on Matrimony Hill
Tom Fruin / beekman1802.com

In celebration of Pride Month at Upstate New York's Beekman 1802, they're inviting scores of couples to their farm to say "I do" atop Matrimony Hill inside of a rainbow colored glass house sculpture by artist Tom Fruin.

The Let Love Bloom Wedding Marathon will take place on the Beekman Farm in Sharon Springs, New York on June 26 and 27.

June 26 is the day the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June 2015. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell join us.

Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative Logo
Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative / https://getvaccinatedberkshires.org/

The Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative is a coalition of county healthcare leaders, including Berkshire Health Systems, the county Boards of Health Association, Community Health Programs, Northern Berkshire EMS, the city of Pittsfield and more. For months, the collaborative has worked to distribute COVID-19 vaccines throughout the westernmost county in Massachusetts. This week, the collaborative said it’s beginning to scale down its larger clinics with almost half the county vaccinated. Collaborative spokesperson Jennifer Vrabel, Executive Director of Communications for Berkshire Health Systems, spoke with WAMC Josh Landes.

Massachusetts Gov Charlie Baker at a lecturn
Governor's press office / Twitter

Massachusetts is ending all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and its mask rule effective on May 29.

The COVID-19 vaccine moves from cold storage at the Department of Health to coolers and is transported to the TU Center for mass vaccination clinics.
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

Hospital representatives on both sides of Lake Champlain are addressing vaccine hesitancy and any new concerns that are emerging as children aged 12 to 15 become eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Vials of COVID-19 vaccine
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

    Coronavirus infections are rising in Springfield, Massachusetts even as vaccines become more widely available.

A green awning with a sheriff's badge logo is in front of a beige building under a blue sky
Josh Landes / WAMC

As the COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues across Massachusetts, the Berkshire House of Correction in Lanesborough is taking part. Nationwide, congregate settings like county jails have struggled to control coronavirus spread. WAMC spoke with facility Assistant Superintendent Daniel Sheridan about the effort – among staff and inmates alike.

The Massachusetts State House
Jim Levulis / WAMC

Democratic Western Massachusetts State Senator Adam Hinds chaired the first hearing for a new committee on re-imagining Massachusetts after the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday.

Vermont Forward Graphic
State of Vermont

Governor Phil Scott outlined Tuesday what he is calling the Vermont Forward Plan: a roadmap to opening the state by July 4th.

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus with Stephanie Peng, Jennifer Song and Emily Wang
Courtesy of the Office of Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus

A few high school students in Orange County decided to give back to their community by performing at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

U.S. Canada flags graphic
Flanker/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The New England-Canada Business Council held a virtual discussion this week with stakeholders in Vermont and Canada about the impact of the USMCA trade agreement on Vermont, cross-border trade, the pandemic and renewable energy.

A stone building with a colonnade.
Josh Landes / WAMC

Public health professionals continue to track a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Composite Image by Dave Lucas (WAMC / cdc.gov)

Sullivan County’s health official is urging residents to continue to take precautions against COVID-19 — such as mask wearing and social distancing — whether they are vaccinated or not. This comes after a surge in local cases.

Two white women stand on either side of an older white man who is addressing an unseen audience in front of a pair of windows.
Josh Landes / WAMC

Emails obtained by WAMC News through a Freedom Of Information Act Request show tensions between Pittsfield, Massachusetts political leaders as they sought to address the needs of the city’s unhoused population in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY
Courtesy of Marist College

Marist College in Poughkeepsie has extended its campus pause due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. College officials also have added new restrictions.

Colleen Laico, from Kingston, NY, a medical professional at the ER at Kingston Hospital, receives her COVID-19 vaccination at MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie, December 18, 2020
Courtesy of the Office of Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan

New York state is lowering the age to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine to 50 starting Tuesday.

COVID-19 Diagram
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The COVID-19 P.1 variant – also called the Brazilian variant – has been detected for the first time in a New York resident.

Elizabeth Sobol
provided

At the Saratoga Performing Arts Center last year they had more than 200 events on their campus – including a total of 10,000 visitors, 50 people at a time, from July to December. During that time, their operations and facilities team worked according to very strict COVID protocols and created a blueprint for events that kept their guests and staff safe and healthy.

As they move into the 2021 season, their number one priority is creating a safe environment for everyone – audience members, staff and performers. So, they do not yet know when they will be allowed to open – nor, more importantly, at what capacity. There are many questions. And for answers – we welcome Elizabeth Sobol - President and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Governor Phil Scott reported on the latest vaccine distribution plan from the White House today and previewed plans to relax guidelines as more Vermonters receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro delivers his 2021 State of the County address, virtually, March 16
Courtesy of the Office of Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is presenting his state of the county address Tuesday. The recorded virtual presentation focuses on the county’s COVID-19 response in the past year. Molinaro plans to expand housing options and enhance the parks system, among other initiatives. WAMC”s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with Molinaro ahead of his online address.

CVPH Medical Center
Pat Bradley/WAMC

A fully vaccinated resident of the Skilled Nursing Facility at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh has tested positive for COVID-19.

Shawna Scoville and Will Gallagher
Provided by Shawna Scoville

Starting March 15, New York state will expand its capacity limits at weddings to 150 people, with COVID-19 testing required. Pandemic gathering restrictions have roiled many couples, families, and venues for the past year. WAMC’s Jesse King has more on what the stalled wedding industry thinks of the change. 

Ulster County Exec Says Schools Will Soon Reopen

Mar 11, 2021
BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Charles Khoury (left) and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, March 11, 2021
Courtesy of the Office of Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan/screenshot by WAMC, Allison Dunne

The nine school districts in Ulster County are preparing to reopen in person full-time. The Ulster County executive delivered the news during his COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon, alongside a district superintendent.

Rep. Paul Tonko speaks Thursday over Zoom
Zoom/screen capture by WAMC

A group of bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would support research to investigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. 

Rebecca Soffer and Amy Cunningham
provided / modernloss.com // fittingtributefunerals.com

The toll taken on survivors of those who have lost those close to them of the Coronavirus is tremendous. A new study calculates that nine family members are affected by every person who dies of the coronavirus. With about 525-thousand Americans having succumbed to the virus, that means nearly 4.7 million are grieving.

The numbers are staggering, and they are growing. It’s hard to imagine how this doesn’t dominate us for some time. Indeed, the grief pandemic will outlast the coronavirus pandemic.

To discuss this, we welcome Rebecca Soffer co-founder and CEO of the website Modern Loss - a place to share the unspeakably taboo, unbelievably hilarious, and unexpectedly beautiful terrain of navigating your life after a death.

We also welcome Amy Cunningham of Fitting Tribute Funeral Services. Cunningham is a licensed funeral director and celebrant in Brooklyn who collaborates with New York City families to help them create the best funerals and farewells possible.

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