HAMPSHIRE COUNTY

Coverage of Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

Jasmine Sinclair, who organized a protest in Northampton, Mass., 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. 

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.

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