Update on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Council’s Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.
Our weekly COVID-19 dashboard showed there were 738 new cases of COVID-19 for the week ending November 8, a rate of 374.0 per 100,000 population.
That compares with 760 new cases and a rate of 385.1 cases per 100,000 population the previous week.
Although that’s a small drop, we’ve seen some really high daily case counts coming through this week and this gives us continued cause for concern.
It’s a tough challenge but it’s down to each and every one of us to keeping following the rules and get our infection rates down.
If we do that we can protect ourselves, protect our loved ones, and protect Stockton-on-Tees.
In this update I’d like to provide some information about a number of things including testing, a new team of volunteers, and the help available to residents and businesses.
We will continue to keep you updated in the coming days and weeks.
Local rapid-result testing
You may have seen in the news that all 12 North East councils have been included in the roll-out of mass testing to 67 council areas across England.
We are expecting 10,000 of these “lateral flow” tests – which can provide results within an hour – to arrive imminently, followed by approximately 20,000 tests a week.
The region’s Directors of Public Health are busy working on plans to deploy these tests in a way that will have the maximum impact on infection rates.
Clearly, we want to get this up and running as soon as possible and we will provide a further update as soon as these plans are in place.
New testing site
The new testing site in Billingham Forum car park is now up and running, bringing the total number of testing sites in the Borough to three.
The other two sites are in the Dairy car park in Stockton (next to the Hampton by Hilton hotel) and in Cranworth Street in Thornaby.
You should only book a test if you have one or more of the symptoms of COVID-19.
The symptoms are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
If you have one or more of these symptoms – no matter how mild – book a test either online or by calling 119.
COVID-19 Community Champions
The well-established local charity, Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP), is recruiting 20 volunteers to act as “COVID-19 Community Champions”.
Working alongside other VCSE organisations, they will go forth into the heart of our communities to ensure that clear and consistent COVID-19 messages get through.
They’ll also help us identify any barriers to messages getting through and find solutions to this.
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’ve had more than 500 applications for grants from business forced to close under the second national lockdown arrangements and are processing these very quickly.
Retrospective grants are available to hospitality and leisure businesses affected by the Tier 2 restrictions imposed on the Borough in the middle of October.
We’re also drawing up a local discretionary grants scheme and expect applications to go live in the next week.
Details and application forms are available on our dedicated business support webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/businesssupport.
A big ‘thank you’ from the Mayor
I’m delighted to say that the Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees, Councillor Mohammed Javed, is back home after being hospitalised with COVID-19.
He was in intensive care at one point so it has been a very worrying time for his family.
It’s also a reminder to us all of just how dangerous this virus can be.
Both Mohammed and his wife, Shabana, have asked me to pass on the family’s sincere thanks for all of the well wishes and messages of support they’ve had.
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.