You may have seen in the media that for the latest week (seven days to 3 March) Barnsley has the highest COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of population and that although the figure has dropped from the previous week, it is a very small percentage drop.
The persistent stubborn rates in Barnsley are frustrating for everyone, and I can assure you that we are doing everything we can, both as a council and in our work with health partners, to drive this number down.
We use every opportunity offered to us, such as community testing, providing financial support to people who need to isolate via our local discretionary grant and Covid-19 local support service, the use of Covid Marshals, and support and advice to businesses including supermarkets, on operating safely.
We also use a range of channels to get advice and guidance messages out to Barnsley residents. We will strengthen this with community engagement via our services who work out and about across the borough, and who can have conversations with residents about these issues and the best ways to reduce and prevent transmission.
We closely monitor cases in Barnsley and have a robust Outbreak Management Plan. We have not seen any single area of concern in Barnsley, the cases are made up of small pockets across the borough. Our cases rates are often a reflection of our population – high-density households, a large number of people who have to leave their homes to work in factories and warehouses, an older population, and people living with long term health conditions.
While our cases rates remain high, we are seeing far fewer deaths and hospital pressures than we have done for months. There are significantly fewer people in hospital with Covid than we’ve seen for a while which suggests both the vaccine and the extended lockdown have really started to have an impact.
Reducing our rates depends on the efforts of every single person in the borough. We all must keep doing the things we know help reduce transmission – washing hands, wearing face coverings and keeping two metre distance from others.
Sticking to the basics and getting tested and getting vaccinated when we are eligible to do so is key to sustaining progress and enable the continued lifting of restrictions – something we are all keen to see happen.