Let’s look after each other – city leaders issue call after rise in cases

City leaders and public health officials from York are asking for a city-wide effort to keep people safe and the places we love open, following a rise in cases, both locally and nationally.

During York’s Outbreak Management Advisory Board today (30 September), Sharon Stoltz, York’s Director for Public Health explained how although Covid 19 cases in York are low compared to the region and nationally, there has been a sharp increase in hospital admissions, a rise in the number of positive tests and a rising 7 day average, and therefore, the city is at risk of being added to the Public Health England watchlist if the trend doesn’t change. 

Since the pandemic started, the number of cases per 100,000 in the city (603.9) are below the national (679.9) and regional averages (891.7), however, there is other data causing concern. This includes the positivity rate, the average number of cases in the past seven days and the fact that hospital admissions are starting to increase.

Throughout the pandemic, local businesses and residents have worked hard and adapted well to keeping people safe, introducing new measures and wearing face coverings or keeping socially distanced.  The city remains a safe place for people who visit safely, with data showing that more cases are transmitted in people’s homes than anywhere else.

Since the start of the pandemic, the council has been working with city partners and the outbreak management advisory board to put in place a string of measures to help slow the spread of the virus, but as cases have increased nationally, so have the number of cases in York and surrounding areas.

The best way to fight the infection is to remember hands, face, space and to:

– Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds or more with soap and water

– Keep 2m apart from people outside your household and don’t gather in groups of more than six

– Wear a face covering in busy public spaces

– Self-isolate if you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a continuous dry cough and a loss of or change in the sense of taste or smell) or if contacted by test and trace as a contact of someone who has Coronavirus. If you have symptoms please ask for a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119.

The Council has also been working closely with the police, Public Health, York BID and other partners to put in place an increased presence throughout the evening.  The message is to encourage people to go straight home after a night out and to support that, buskers will be discouraged from playing in key locations as pubs and restaurants close. Whilst we want residents and visitors to be able to enjoy our city, we also want to ensure that people are safe and to reduce the risk of infection.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council and Chair of York’s Outbreak Management Advisory Board said:

“This is an important period for the city, and only by working together, we can maintain people’s safety and keep the places we love open. We have seen the impact local restrictions have had in other parts of the country and we are working with our partners to do what we can to slow the spread of the virus.

As a city, we are continuing to press the Government for additional testing capacity locally. We understand that the lack available tests is causing people difficulties and I have already written to the Government to demand that this situation be addressed urgently.  For now, we are very grateful to all those self-isolating whilst waiting for a test and a result, anyone needing help with food or other support whilst self-isolating can access our helpline on 01904 551550.

“More than ever, we must focus on protecting our family, friends and neighbours from the virus and I am very grateful to local residents and businesses for their hard work in slowing the spread of the virus and in adapting to the changing national guidance. We understand that this remains an incredibly difficult time for many people, but we must continue in these efforts to protect one another and keep the places we love in the city open.”

Sharon Stoltz, Director of Public Health at City of York Council said: “Hand-washing, wearing face coverings in busy public spaces, keeping 2m apart from other people and self-isolating and asking for a test if you have symptoms are our best defence against the virus.

“It is more important than ever that we do as they make a massive difference in keeping people safe and stopping the spread of the virus.

“We continue to closely monitor the data to track and trace the spread of the virus as quickly as possible. Currently it seems that social contact and households mixing indoors and not social distancing is causing the spread. Due to the length of time it takes for the virus to incubate, symptoms to develop and individuals to become infectious it is very unlikely that this is the result of students arriving in the city. It is however, the result of people who have missed their friends and loved ones opening their homes to enjoy each other’s company. We know how hard it is to stay away but the best way to show love at the moment is to keep your loved ones safe by practicing Hands. Face. Space.   

“Whilst people can meet within the rule of 6 we would ask that people are extra cautious when seeing friends and family from outside their household bubble.

“We can reverse this trend of rising cases but it needs a city wide effort to make it happen.”


What can I do to help?

We all have a role to play in stopping the spread of Coronavirus by:

– Washing our hands regularly

–  Wearing a face covering in busy public spaces

– Staying 2m away from people outside your household wherever possible

– Self-isolate and ask for a test if you have symptoms

What is the current data for York?

 The last national seven day rate showed that as of 27 September York has 46 cases per 100,000 population, which on average is 14 new cases every day. There is usually a time lag in what is reported nationally and we will soon show a rate of 52. The national and regional averages are 49.7 and 70.3 respectively.

The latest 7 day positivity rate in York (Pillar 2 only) was 3.61%. The national and regional averages are 3.8% and 4.6% respectively.

In the two weeks up until 21 September, almost every area in York had positive COVID cases reported.  No area has had over ten cases in the period of a week, which shows that transmission isn’t confined to particular parts of the city.