Berkshire Health Systems Urges Vaccination, Testing as Local COVID-19 Cases Increase

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) community COVID-19 testing centers are reporting they are fielding more patient calls, the number of tests performed has spiked, and the number of positive COVID-19 cases is increasing.

“The highly contagious Delta variant is the prevalent strain of COVID-19 across the country right now. It is safe to assume that it is also here in Berkshire County,” said Dr. James Lederer Jr., chief medical officer and chief quality officer at BHS. “We encourage anyone and everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible to help prevent the Delta variant from taking hold in our community.”

Lederer encouraged all Berkshire residents to remember that the vaccines are designed to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19. Breakthrough infections are extremely rare among people who have been vaccinated; however, if a vaccinated person does test positive for COVID-19, their symptoms are typically mild or moderate.

“We are seeing increased severity of illness in young, unvaccinated patients, likely from the Delta variant. Anyone who is unvaccinated remains at significant risk of serious illness, hospitalization, or death,” said Lederer, who, along with BHS’s clinical leaders, encourages mask wearing, even when it is not legally required, especially among unvaccinated adults and children.

Testing remains an important tool in identifying and stopping the spread of COVID-19, and rapid COVID-19 testing is available every day of the week at BHS testing centers in Pittsfield, North Adams, and Great Barrington. Walk-in vaccinations are also available every day at the Pittsfield Testing Center located at 505 East St. Vaccinations are administered at the North Adams and Great Barrington testing centers on specific days. Visit www.getvaccinatedberkshires.org for the complete schedule.