Lockdown is working, let’s keep going
We are now seeing significant and sustained falls in the infection rate across our district.
When England entered lockdown on 5 January Wychavon’s infection rate was 342 per 100,000. As of Monday morning (15 February) that had fallen to 168 per 100,000 which shows lockdown measures are working and that’s down to you and the efforts and sacrifices you are making. You can now see the daily Covid-19 figures for yourself on the Worcestershire County Council dashboard.
Our infection rate is still too high though and could easily start rising again if we start to relax. Our NHS is still under pressure so we need to see that rate continue to fall. We expect this to happen if we all continue to follow the rules.
Stay at home and only go out for essential reasons. If you have to go out, wear your face covering when indoors and keep your distance from others. Keep washing your hands regularly too.
These simple things will help to keep you and your loved ones safe but also help us get back on top of this virus and reopen society so we can get back to the people, and things, we love.
Even if you have been vaccinated, it is really important you continue to follow these basics and the rules of lockdown.
The Prime Minister will set out his roadmap for the easing of lockdown next week. That, together with the rollout of the vaccine, should give us all cause for hope that we have truly turned the corner on this virus and we are getting closer to a return to normality.
Now is not the time to give up. The end is in sight. Let’s keep going.
Cllr Bradley Thomas, Leader of Wychavon District Council
Covid-19 vaccine rollout gathers pace
Across Herefordshire and Worcestershire more than 180,000 people have now received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. These have been people in the first four priority groups (find out more about the Covid-19 vaccine priority groups).
The vaccination programme will soon be moving on to the remaining five priority groups. The Government hopes to offer vaccinations to everyone in the top nine priority groups by the end of April.
Testing for people with no symptoms
If you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 and live and work in Worcestershire, then you can now get a rapid test (Lateral Flow Test). These tests can give you a result within an hour.
If you test positive you will need to self-isolate immediately. Introducing this type of testing will help drive down cases further by identifying the 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 who have the virus, but show no symptoms, so could be spreading it without knowing.
Remember, if you test negative it is still important you follow social distancing rules. A negative test result only means you did not have Covid-19 at the point you were tested. It does not mean you are free to act normally.
If you live in parts of the WR3 and WR9 postcodes, where community testing is taking place to identify the South African variant of the virus, then please make sure you only use the dedicated testing points or home test kits provided.
If you do have symptoms of Covid-19 then you should get a test by going online or call 119.
Council Tax freeze and our plan for recovery
Wychavon will be freezing its share of Council Tax this year in recognition of the fact people are struggling due to the impact of the pandemic.
Wychavon is one of five organisations that make up your Council Tax bill. Each organisation sets the amount it needs to raise to fund its services and the total is added together. So, it is possible your bill may still rise if others choose to raise their share of the bill.
We have also announced new promises in our corporate strategy as part of our commitment to helping the district come back stronger from the pandemic.
If you need help paying your Council Tax bill, or are struggling financially, then please visit www.wychavon.gov.uk/moneyadvice for support and links to organisations that can help you.
Apply for a winter fuel grant
Through our partner Act on Energy, you may be able to get help with paying your fuel bills.
If this does not apply to you then the Government has produced a guide for people struggling to pay essential bills because of the pandemic.
Elections and Covid-19
On 6 May, elections will take place for the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner and Worcestershire County Council.
Efforts are being made to make sure people can vote in person on the day in a safe way. This includes putting in Covid-19 Secure measures at polling stations, such as one-way systems and sanitising common touchpoints regularly.
If you wish to vote in person on polling day then you will be asked to take simple safety measures such as bringing your own pen or pencil. You will also need to wear a face covering inside the polling station and maintain social distancing.
You may decide you would rather stay at home on this occasion. If so, you do not have to lose your voice. You can apply to vote by post or to send someone to vote on your behalf, known as voting by proxy.
The deadline for postal votes for this election is 5pm on 20 April and 27 April for proxy votes. If you are thinking of voting in this way, then we strongly recommend you apply early.
You can find out more about how to vote in 2021 elections on our website.
Residents’ survey results
We have published the results of our residents’ survey which show the majority of people were happy with the way we have responded so far during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Satisfaction with our services provided during the pandemic was above 70%.
Levels of satisfaction relating specifically to our Covid-19 response ranged from 85.6% for advice and support relating to Covid-19 to 78.7% for information and support for businesses.
People also said they were likely to continue with infection control measures (face coverings, social distancing etc) even when the pandemic is contained, and restrictions are lifted. People also expect to work from home more and to continue online shopping. Attending large sporting or entertainment events, using public transport and rush hour commuting were things people felt they were less likely to do.
Thank you to everyone who took part. Your feedback will help inform our continued response to the current situation as well as our planning for the future.
Sign up for our consultation list and we will send you email alerts about relevant consultations you may be interested in.
Lots to do at Worcestershire’s libraries
Worcestershire’s libraries may only be offering a limited in-person service at the moment due to lockdown, but they are still offering plenty of virtual activities.
From bounce and rhyme sessions and Lego club to virtual photography and board game bubbles, there is something for people of all ages to try.
Share your experiences with our Covid-19 Memory Bank
We set-up our Covid-19 Memory Bank as a way of marking our experiences during the pandemic so we could preserve and share them for future generations to learn and reflect on.
So far we have had pictures of artwork, poems, blogs, videos and photos capturing everything from outdoor garden exercise and Zoom calls with friends to people sharing how the pandemic has affected them mentally and emotionally.
We’d like to encourage all of you to contribute something to that memory bank. Some things you could try:
- Provide a tribute to a loved one or friend lost to the virus
- If you have had the virus share your experience
- Share a picture of you having the vaccine
- Write down how you are feeling now as we experience the hardship of our third lockdown but look ahead with hope to the end of this pandemic
- Tell us what you are planning to do when normal life returns? Is there anything that has changed due to Covid-19 that you would like to see become permanent?
You can upload your experiences on our Covid-19 Memory Bank page.
Looking after your physical and mental health
Even though times are tough at the moment, it is really important you continue to look after your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Every Mind Matters has various tools to help you support your mental wellbeing.
If you are dealing with difficult feelings about the pandemic then the charity Mind has help and support available.
The Government has also published a guide to looking after your mental wellbeing during the pandemic on its website.
If you are looking to lose weight and get active then the NHS Better Health website has links to a range of workouts and other tools to help you.
Remember, despite the severe pressure the NHS is under, you should still contact them if you need them and not just for Covid-19 related conditions. You can speak to your pharmacist, use the NHS 111 service or contact your GP. In a life-threatening emergency you should call 999.