Update on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Council’s Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.
We learnt yesterday that the Tees Valley, and indeed, the whole of the North East is to remain in Tier 3 of the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions.
This comes as our weekly COVID-19 dashboard showed there were 335 new cases in the Borough during the week ending December 13, a rate of 169.8 per 100,000.
That’s a slight increase on the 323 new cases recorded the previous week, a rate of 163.7 per 100,000 population.
It shows that those encouraging falls we were seeing in the weeks before have levelled off.
We need to get those figures falling again and that means us all doing our bit by following the rules.
We’ll continue to keep you updated in the coming days and weeks.
Help for people applying for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment
We’re continuing to help people who are having problems acquiring the national NHS Test and Trace 8-digit reference number when they have to self-isolate. We need this 8-digit number to process the £500 Test and Trace Support Payments, which are for people on a low-income who cannot work when they are required to self-isolate. We are also aware that some people are having difficulties with the requirement to demonstrate loss of earnings, and in cases where they are unable to work because of parenting or caring responsibilities in self-isolation situations.
This week we added extra funding to our discretionary scheme, which will allow us to provide additional help to those on low incomes. You don’t need to make a separate application for this and details, along with an application form and helpline number are available at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/testandtracesupportscheme.
Help for people who are struggling financially
We appreciate that a lot of people are struggling financially and there’s lots of information on our website about welfare support, the £500 Test and Trace support payments, housing support, help with Council Tax, and the Hardship Fund. You can find this on our webpage at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/financialsupport.
Help for vulnerable and elderly people
The COVID Community Support Team can support vulnerable and elderly residents with help collecting shopping, picking up prescriptions or making sure people who are self-isolating and may be worried or lonely get the support they need.
The team can be contacted on 01642 733906 between 9am and 12noon, Monday to Friday or by emailing [email protected].
Help for businesses
We have started to process the £1,000 Christmas Support Payments for “wet-led” pubs but you do need to apply. Full details and an application form can be found on our website at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/christmassupportpayments.
The payment of other support grants for businesses continues to go well. Full details and application forms for all of the business support grants available are on our business support webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/businesssupport.
Local community testing
Earlier this week we confirmed our plans to roll out wide-scale rapid-result testing in our communities early in the new year. This is for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
Delivery of these tests is scheduled to support testing starting from Splash in Stockton on Wednesday, January 6. This will be followed by the opening of testing sites at The Forum in Billingham and The Pavilion in Thornaby.
We’re now on with identifying and training staff, preparing the test sites and parking arrangements, and putting booking and data handling processes in place.
Alongside this, we’ve now started to carry out more targeted testing using the 10,000 lateral flow tests allocated to the Borough.
Testing of staff at Allensway Learning Disability Resource Centre, the Halcyon Centre, and in our Community Transport service started this week. We will also be making the tests available to support GP practices in the Borough that are experiencing a delay in receiving tests for their staff through the national testing programme.
And we are continuing discussions with some large employers in the Borough with a view to starting some targeted workplace testing in the new year.
Remember, you can keep up with all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in the Borough, including details of the help and support available, via our webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus.