Coverage of Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

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. 

Hampden County Jail in Ludlow, Massachusetts.
File photo / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Some western Massachusetts sheriffs said people being released early from jail amid the COVID-19 pandemic are having difficulty adjusting after being let go.

A PVTA bus makes a stop at a Stop and Shop supermarket.
MTA3306 / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/87549811@N03

The union representing some Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus drivers said five of its members have come down with COVID-19.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

As the number of new COVID-19 cases in western Massachusetts is beginning to flatten or decline, some hospitals say they're starting to think about opening to non-urgent services.

Ernest Jerry Jones, after visiting Stop and Shop in Northampton, Massachusetts, on April 17, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

On Monday evening, an executive order went into effect in Connecticut requiring anyone in public to wear a face mask of some sort if they can't stay at least 6 feet away from other people. 

A N95 respirator mask.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Massachusetts has more than 30,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections as of Thursday, one of the highest state totals in the country, as Gov. Charlie Baker said the peak demand on hospitals is approaching fast.

The COVID-19 drive-through testing station at Lawrence General Hospital.
Robbin Lubbock / WBUR

A researcher at MIT projects three counties in western Massachusetts have seen the peak in daily new cases of the novel coronavirus, while a fourth will see the top in about a week.

A desk in a physician's office.
Karen Brown / NEPR

Primary care doctors are supposed to be the first stop for the COVID-19 crisis. They're who you call if you have symptoms, partly to relieve pressure on hospitals.

But the pandemic has put immense financial strain on primary care practices.

As the coronavirus continues to ravage links in the supply chain, food banks across the state are struggling to feed hungry families while keeping staff and volunteers safe. But a new partnership between the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and local farmers promises to increase access to fresh, organic produce at a time when it’s needed most.

In western Massachusetts, North Hadley Congregational Church, like other houses of worship, is trying to keep people connected.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

As people of Jewish faith observe Passover this week on Zoom, for Christians it is Holy Week, ending with Easter Sunday. Music is at the core of many religious rituals.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, congregants at one western Massachusetts church haven’t been singing in the same room over the past few weeks. But their voices are still being heard in unison.

Falasha Paul of Springfield, Massachusetts, after the home birth of her daughter in January 2020.
Submitted / Jharna Harvey-Ahmei

COVID-19 is upending many aspects of life, including the beginning of it.

Storrow Drive in Boston, Massachusetts.
Phil Roeder / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder

Massachusetts drivers caught with cellphones in their hands are supposed to start getting tickets Wednesday, but police say the new coronavirus could afffect how strictly a new law is enforced.

Danilo Ferro assists a student in his eighth-grade special education math class at Amherst Regional Middle School.
Ben James / NEPR

Depending on their district and available technology, students find themselves with varying levels of daily work to do from home while schools are closed. The disruption in western Massachusetts has no doubt complicated efforts to address a major inequity.

Amina Meckel-Sam, at left, and Pearl Shread are juniors at Northampton High School. They co-lead the Students of Color Alliance.
Ben James / NEPR

Many educators want Massachusetts public schools — closed for now to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus — to be a leveling force, improving outcomes for students of color. But inequities in school services can be a barrier to student success.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette is based in Northampton, Mass.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The COVID-19 outbreak is taking its toll on some newspapers in New England. Already-sagging advertising revenues have dipped even more. That’s led to layoffs and other cuts.

Days before Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close, some already had.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered non-essential businesses in the state to shut their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. But what is considered “essential” by the state could change.

Norman Pacheco is a special education teacher at Holyoke STEM Academy. "We need more teachers of color. We need more administrators of color. We need kids of color to see that there is a future beyond the ends of their noses," he says.
Ben James / NEPR

Public schools in Massachusetts are closed for at least the next two weeks, very likely longer. But when they do reopen, one persistent problem will remain: a shortage of teachers and administrators of color.

Homemade masks sewn by Northampton, Mass., clothing-maker Caitlin Carvalho, who is donating them to hospitals and other organizations.
Courtesy of Caitlin Carvalho

As President Trump has resisted using the full range of his executive powers to address the shortage in medical supplies like masks, regular citizens across the country are offering to hand-sew them at home and donate them to hospitals and other institutions. 

The Williamsburg Market has had twice the amount of business than usual. Sean Mallari and Steve Smith, who just bought the business this month, unpack a recent delivery that was much bigger than usual.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

While the goal of closing schools and businesses is to slow the spread of COVID-19, the impact on employment has been swift in Massachusetts.  

Edwin Nartowicz, 96, shoots pool at the senior center in Northampton, Massachusetts, last Friday before it closed because of the coronavirus. Nartowicz also likes to go to the YMCA, but it also closed.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Most people are limiting their contact with others to protect against the virus that causes COVID-19. This is considered especially important for senior citizens, whose immune systems may have more trouble fighting it. 

Northampton High School.
John Suchocki / Masslive / masslive.com/photos

Updated at 11:24 p.m.

Most students in western Massachusetts won't be going to school on Monday after districts decided to close because of the new coronavirus.

Amherst College in Amherst, Mass.
Wikimedia Commons / via MassLive / MassLive.com/photos

As the new coronavirus continues to spread across the country, Amherst College is telling students not to come back after spring break. Other nearby schools, including Smith College in Northampton and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, followed suit.

Bags that carry ballots to polling places in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Northampton, Massachusetts, officials have decided not to redo the city’s override vote, despite a ballot shortage in one precinct.

Croix Paquette, pictured at right, is in recovery and works with the DART program.
Karen Brown / NEPR

Croix Paquette is a Tennessee native and a natural storyteller. One story he often tells is about the last day he used drugs.

Police officers attend a Drug Addiction and Recovery Team kickoff event for Hampden County cities and towns.
Karen Brown / NEPR

A program in Massachusetts that offers help to drug users, as an alternative to arrests, started in Hampshire County. The Drug Addiction and Recovery Team (DART) is now moving into Hampden County. But police in Springfield aren’t taking part, and there’s little information about what they are doing for overdose survivors.