We’re seeing a very slow reduction in the numbers of positive cases. The 7-day rate of new COVID-19 infections is around 200 per 100,000 people in the population – that’s approximately 70 new cases a day in Barnsley. This is still much too high and gives us very little room for manoeuvre – not just in Barnsley but across the country.
There has been a fantastic effort by the health service, its partners and the residents of Barnsley to ensure we’ve had a brilliant uptake of vaccinations in those groups of people who are most likely to die if they catch COVID-19. It is great news, but I must emphasise it remains crucial that everyone, including those vaccinated, should still follow the guidance, observe social distancing and all prevention measures as we still have high transmission rates of the virus.
I’ve heard a lot this week from colleagues across health and social care about how weary staff are, and that’s why I want to use this message to acknowledge and say a huge thank you to all essential workers, but this week particularly, to every single person who works in health and care services in Barnsley – in the hospital, in care homes, in the council, in the hospice, in the community, in primary care and in the voluntary and community sector.
So many people have been working non-stop in upsetting, often traumatic and always exhausting circumstances for nearly a year now. As a nurse myself, I join vaccination teams whenever I can and see first-hand the dedication, the professionalism and the care of staff who every day go the extra mile to serve the people of Barnsley. I’ve also heard directly from Barnsley people about their stories, how they’ve coped during the past year, and the tragedies and loss that too many have experienced. This message comes on the same day that we share the news that Barnsley will have a Covid Memorial to commemorate the lives lost and in recognition of its key workers. Read more on the council's website.
Yet the Barnsley spirit always shows through, and we have been humbled by the gratitude and uptake of the vaccination and people’s hope for a better future. It has been a privilege to be part of this historic vaccination programme. And while vaccination brings enormous hope, it will still be some time before we can truly relax. We need to keep social distancing, washing our hands and crucially wearing face coverings in public places to reduce the transmission of the virus much more and give the vaccination programme a chance to do its work. It feels a time of balancing hardship and hope, of keeping going with the vital work of sticking to the guidance – yet if there’s one place that can do it, it’s Barnsley.