Local democracy during coronavirus

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Agenda item

Public Health Update

The Director of Public Health will give a presentation updating the Committee on Public Health in York.


The Director of Public Health attended the meeting to give a presentation on the most current public health information available relating to Covid 19, which broadly covered:


·         7 day incidence rates per 100,000, showing how York had gone from having lowest figures regionally to the highest over the 3 week Christmas and New Year period.  The rate was now much closer to national figures.  By way of comparison, details were given of those rates nationally, regionally and in York residents over 60;

·         Positivity rates (Pillar 2 only), which had also increased rapidly over the same period;

·         Hospital activity as at 23/12/20 and 4/1/21, culminating in growing pressure on the hospital and consequently on adult social care, in particular domiciliary care which was being carefully monitored;

·         Covid 19 & Excess deaths, which, again, had risen but not yet reached the peak around March/April 2020;

·         Trends by age band, with every age group increasing in Covid illness;

·         Cases in residential settings/schools, as at 31 December 2020 there had been 7 care home cases and 23 school children had tested positive prior to the Christmas school holidays;

·         MSOA (Medium Super Output Areas) rates in last 7 days, a map detailing outbreaks in York would be emailed to Members of the Committee.  The pattern of outbreaks had shifted slightly from more in Bishopthorpe & Askham Richard to acceleration in Woodthorpe & Acomb Park in recent days.  Test centres were being mobilised in both those areas;

·         Local tracing of cases, where the number of referrals was increasing locally


In summary, the Director advised Members that there had been a significant rise in infection rates since she last reported to the Committee, impacting on the delivery of some Council services as staff sickness levels rose, in particular the waste and highways teams. Another test and flow site was to be opened in conjunction with York University as testing capacity currently remained stretched.  She concluded by welcoming any feedback on how the Council might improve its communication and engagement from a public health perspective.


The Assistant Director (Education & Skills) then gave a schools update in terms of the Covid 19 impact on public health, reiterating the close working relationship with the Public Health Team.  She advised Members that testing on site had been opened up for exam year groups over Christmas and was heavily pressured. A number of schools had not been able to open in recent days.  Lateral flow testing kits had been received in secondary schools but it was proving difficult to find sufficient resources to support the testing. In response to questions from Members, she outlined the steps which would need[SD1]  to be followed should the Council wish to make representations to the Government to close schools.  Although the Director of Public Health re-emphasised her position that adequate measures remained in place to protect pupils and teachers alike in order to continue to provide education.

The Chair then invited questions on the presentation and updates given and the Officers responded to various questions covering the availability of Covid re-infection data, google classroom lessons and digital platform use, lateral flow testing within the Council being piloted within the Economy & Place Directorate, the effectiveness of communications, the potential reasons for the sudden upsurge in York, recent excess deaths data and outbreak locations in York.


RESOLVED:             That   


(i)            the Director of Public Health and Assistant Director (Education & Skills) be thanked for their presentations and the information provided;

(ii)          current statistical data relating to excess deaths in York be provided to Members of the Committee for their information;

(iii)         an update be received at the next meeting on the lateral flow testing being piloted within the Highways team (refuse collection and winter gritting etc).



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