HAMPSHIRE COUNTY

Coverage of Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

The UMass Amherst campus.
Rhobite / Creative Commons / en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Rhobite

The town manager for Amherst warns that the influx of UMass students in the fall could spread COVID-19 in a town that, up until now, has had relatively few cases. He's asking the university to change its reopening plan to avoid making things worse.

The UMass Amherst campus in a file photo.
UMass Amherst / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

New England professors are among about 30,000 academics from around the U.S. to sign an open letter condemning a new federal policy regarding international college students. The Trump administration is barring those students from staying in the U.S. if they only take online classes this fall.

Author Jennifer Rosner of Northampton, Massachusetts.
Elizabeth Solaka / Courtesy Jennifer Rosner

Kicking off our annual summer ficiton series: a novel about a mother-daughter connection and the role of creativity and beauty in human survival. 

A crew from Archaeological and Historical Services Inc. works at one of two dig sites near North King Street in Northampton on Oct. 2, 2019.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

A Native American tribe is calling out opponents to a traffic roundabout in western Massachusetts for being "misleading."

Naomi London of Northampton, Massachusetts, survived a serious case of COVID-19.
Courtesy of Naomi London

While some parts of the country are seeing surges in COVID-19, cases in Massachusetts are down — but not gone. So, with the governor's reopening plan underway, early survivors of the virus are hoping their experience will convince others to be cautious.

A sign at UMass Amherst.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Some UMass Amherst students say they have concerns about the reopening plan announced this week for the fall semester as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

A sign on the door of Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Hadley, Mass., asks customers to wear masks.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

An employee of a Hadley, Massachusetts, hamburger shop said she lost her job after telling customers they needed to wear masks because of the coronavirus.

Nicole M. Young in Northampton, Mass.
Courtesy of Nicole M. Young / Samm Smith Design & Photography

Black Writers Read, live and online June 19th, is the brainchild of several western Massachusetts writers. The event began as a response to a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, originally scheduled for the same day. June 19 is Juneteenth, a day that marks the end of slavery in the U.S. 

Young@Heart, in a recent rehearsal, from their homes in western Massachusetts.
Screen Shot / Jill Kaufman / NEPR

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Young@Heart, the western Massachusetts chorus whose youngest member is 75 years old and oldest is 90, was forced to cancel in-person rehearsals. They started meeting online and making "quarantine videos."

Astronomer Stephen Schneider stands in the middle of the UMass Amherst sunwheel, explaining how a solstice actually lasts more than one day.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Concerned that as many as 100 people could show up on the first day of summer at at its mini-Stonehenge during the pandemic, UMass Amherst has canceled a ritual pre-dawn solstice talk. Skywatchers need not worry about missing out, as the astronomical occurrence takes place over several days.

Ula Richardson, 78, has continued to work part time, caring for the elderly, during the pandemic. She said building up her immune system and praying has helped her through the past three months.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

COVID-19 has been especially lethal to senior citizens. In Massachusetts, nearly 95% of the people who have died from the coronavirus were over 60. The average age of death is 82.

In early April 2020, a lighted sign at the corner of North Pleasant Street and Thatcher Road on the UMass Amherst campus reminds people of habits necessary to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Jerrey Roberts / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Officials at UMass Amherst have released a preliminary report, outlining what college life might look like for the fall semester, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Jasmine Sinclair, who organized the Northampton, Mass., protest, delivers a list of demands, including a one-third reduction in the budget for the Northampton Police Department.
Ben James / NEPR

About a dozen protests against police brutality and racism were scheduled across western Massachusetts over the weekend.

Northampton Police Lieutenant Alan Borowski (left), Chief Jody Kasper and Massachusetts State Police Major Michael Habel agreed to kneel with a protester to end the demonstration.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

More protests are scheduled for Tuesday around the region — including in Boston and Holyoke, Massachusetts. On Monday, hundreds of people gathered in Northampton to protest police brutality and the death of George Floyd. After a tense standoff, the demonstration only ended when officers chose to make a simple gesture.

Protesters lined both sides of Pleasant Street, as well as the center of the street, in Amherst, Massachusetts, on May 31, 2020.
Ben James / NEPR

While protests continue to swell in cities across the country, hundreds gathered on the common in Amherst, Massachusetts, on Sunday to demand justice for George Floyd, the black man killed one week ago by Minneapolis police officers.

Leavitt Family Jewish Home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, reported 66 deaths so far from the coronavirus.
The Republican / masslive.com/photos

More than half the people who have died from COVID-19 in Massachusetts caught the virus in nursing homes, according to new data from the state. 

The Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese is forming a new panel tasked with looking at how the church deals with clergy sexual abuse.

Veterinarian Helen Spiegel Lee works at Mill Valley Veterinary Clinic in Belchertown, Massachusetts.
Courtesy of Helen Spiegel Lee

Unlike most medical offices right now, the Mill Valley Veterinary Clinic in Belchertown, Massachusetts, is busier than ever.

“Pets don’t know there’s a pandemic,” veterinarian Helen Spiegel Lee said.

A veterans' monument in Easthampton, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Memorial Day usually means parades and other public ceremonies honoring those who died while serving the armed forces. With COVID-19 restrictions, some western Massachusetts communities are changing how they mark the occasion. 

A sign on the door of Electric EYE Records in Florence, Massachusetts, which is closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sam Hudzik / NEPR

Reactions continue to Governor Charlie Baker's plan to reopen the Massachusetts economy in the midst of the virus pandemic. It was based on recommendations by a 17-member advisory board.

Diane Drohan manages a command center of emergency food distribution organized by Northampton Survival Center, Grow Food Northampton and Community Action Pioneer Valley for people in need during the pandemic.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Since the pandemic started, the number of people visiting food pantries in New England has jumped.

In Northampton, Massachusetts, the Survival Center is serving more than three times as many households, from across 18 communities.

The polling place at Falcetti Towers in Holyoke, Mass.
File photo / Sam Hudzik / NEPR

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a special election for a state Senate seat covering 11 western Massachusetts communities will be held next week. Democratic State Rep. John Velis and businessman John Cain, a Republican, are on the ballot.

In the play "This Is Your Captain," an airplane wing catches fire and elicits strong feelings among the passengers. It's being rehearsed and performed online.
ruifo / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/ruimc

Actors and directors are finding ways to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic by producing theater online. Among the plays in rehearsal in western Massachusetts is a 10-minute piece, "This Is Your Captain."

Even though school is closed, on a given day there are about a dozen cars lined up in the parking lot of Sanderson Academy in Ashfield with people using the school’s WiFi.

Natalie Szewczyk is one of them. The 18-year-old has turned her Toyota Corolla into a mobile work station.

“I stay in my driver’s seat. I push my seat all the way back,” she explained. “And then I prop my Chromebook on the steering wheel with my work on the passenger seat.”

Her sister, who is in 10th grade, usually takes the back seat.

Springfield Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris at a briefing on the coronavirus.
Douglas Hook / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Hampden County has the sixth highest rate in Massachusetts for confirmed COVID-19 cases. But it has the highest rate of deaths.

Saint Michael's is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic  Diocese of Springfield. It is the city's oldest Catholic church.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese and three western Massachusetts prosecutors have reached a deal on how the church will report sexual abuse allegations.

Rana Zoe Mungin, a former UMass grad student and teacher in New York City, died of COVID-19.
Courtesy of Mia Mungin

A former UMass grad student died last week from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 30. Her friends believe racial bias played a role in her death. And, they say, it’s something she experienced during her years in Amherst.

Graduates from UMass Amherst in 2019 line up for commencement exercises. Most May 2020 commencement events in the U.S. were canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Office of News and Media Relations / UMass Amherst

Updated at 3:05 p.m. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, college students all over the country were sent home to finish up the school year and it soon became clear that graduation ceremonies would be canceled. 

A health care worker places a cotton swab into a vile after taking a sample from someone being tested for COVID-19 last month at a drive-through testing area at Somerville Hospital.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Western Massachusetts health care providers say they have much better access to COVID-19 testing than a month ago, but ideally, they would like even more.

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, at podium, talks about the impact of court-ordered early releases due to COVID-19, while Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni looks on.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Some western Massachusetts sheriffs said this week that with more inmates being released early due to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities, some have had trouble once they were out of jail. 

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