On December 2nd when national restrictions end, Staffordshire will be considered a Tier 3 - Very High Alert Level, area.
The whole of the county, including Stoke is part of three West Midlands sub-regions to be placed on High Alert, Birmingham, Warwickshire and Coventry are also set to high.
Like many of us, I too am disappointed to see Staffordshire move into the Tier 3 Very High Alert Level from December 2nd
This is not an easy decision but it has been made with the best clinical advice and criteria set out by the Winter Plan. To make these decisions, the scientists have to look at a range of indicators not just what we see on the surface and the decision will be reviewed every 14 days, so the next one is by December 16th. The main indicators are:
Case detection rate in all age groups
Case detection rate in the over 60s
The rate at which cases are rising or falling
The positivity rate – the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken
Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected bed occupancy.
The situation in Staffordshire is improving with case rates down 13.4%, but those case rates and the test positivity are both very high (391/100,000 and 11.1% respectively). The pressure on the local NHS remains very high, including in units treating the more serious cases.
Being in Tier 3 means we will see a ramping up of support for the NHS and Councils to get us down the tiers. We are seeing the community testing programme (also known as mass testing) expanded even further that will hone in on those areas with the greatest rate of infection. The programme is open to all local councils in Tier 3 areas in the first instance and offers help to get out of the toughest restrictions as fast as possible.
The testing regime will also see the deployment, with support from the Armed Forces, of lateral flow tests that give a result within an hour and will focus and suppress asymptomatic transmission. Financial support for businesses will stay in place, the furlough scheme, the tax cuts, the loan schemes – please do keep an eye on the Council’s website if you need further information.
We should all remember the incredible progress that has been made towards finding a vaccine, whose rollout plans are being formed as we speak. These are difficult times for us all, some will be concerned about families, work and their businesses, and I along with you will be watching the data very closely to ensure we can make that case to bring us out of Tier 3 as soon as it is safe to do so. If anyone has any concerns or wants any clarifications then please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.
By following the guidance, Tamworth will see off this virus.
For the latest info, guidelines and support visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus