Local democracy during coronavirus

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Agenda item

Current Situation in York


Fiona Phillips, Assistant Director of Public Health at City of York Council, gave a brief update on the rate of local cases, which stood at 637.  This was higher than both the regional and national rates. The data showed a major rise in cases from 15-18 December, which was attributed to the increase in social gatherings before tougher restrictions came into place.  The increase in cases was seen across all age groups, but the 60+ age group didn’t see much of a change.  As that cohort was most at risk they were more likely to adhere to the guidance.  Fiona reported that hospital admissions were still rising and were expected to continue to rise.  Compared to other previous years taken as a baseline, there was an excess of 142 deaths.


The local contact tracing service had followed up almost 90% of all cases received from the national system.  Fiona added that messaging would be prepared to encourage people to engage with the service, as a follow-up at their residence was quite resource- intensive.


Sian Balsom, Manager of Healthwatch York, asked what the rapid increase in cases could be attributed to.  Fiona thought this could be because of people travelling to York from other areas which were of higher risk and had tighter restrictions.  It could also be attributed to the increase in indoor social interaction over the Christmas period when York was a Tier 2 area.


Councillor Myers asked what was being done for the children of critical workers, as the furlough scheme wasn’t being taken up as much as last year.  He also asked why groups of children of critical workers were allowed into school during the national lockdown. Fiona reported that there had been relatively few cases in schools throughout autumn.  All risk assessments that had been provided by schools were good and had demonstrated good contact tracing and self-isolation over the pandemic.  Amanda Hatton, Corporate Director of People at City of York Council, explained that guidance had changed from lockdown 1, particularly around who was a critical worker.  It was more difficult to support children of critical workers in the primary school setting as they had much smaller layouts.  Amanda reported that they were working to offer places for children as much as possible, sometimes placing them in other schools.  She noted that the school system had managed well in a difficult situation.

Ian Floyd, Chief Operating Officer at City of York Council, added that furlough was the responsibility of the business to organise.  There had not been any CYC staff furloughed because most had been seconded to other roles if they had nothing to do in their normal role. Working hours had been as flexible as possible for employees with children.


Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, asked whether we had an idea of where the rates are heading. Fiona expected the rates to drop with the lockdown measures in place but not in the immediate future.  As soon as the lockdown was lifted cases were expected to rise again.  However since it was a respiratory virus, moving into spring would bring a natural reduction in cases.


Julia Muligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, asked how the new variant had affected the rise in cases over Christmas.  Fiona attributed this to the increased amount of indoor social gatherings over the holiday period but added that there was never a single reason for an increase.


The Board noted the report and the presentation.

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