Live with Covid – and take good care

People across North Yorkshire are asked to carry on being considerate towards each other now Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

Covid rates in North Yorkshire remain high at 999.1 per 100,000 population and 371 beds in hospitals serving North Yorkshire’s residents are occupied with Covid patients, 11 in intensive care.

Moreover hundreds of education settings are affected by staff and pupil absences due to the virus and over 396 residents and staff in care settings across the county have tested Covid-19 positive.

For this reason North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health, Louise Wallace, is asking people to take care when out and about.

She said: “We have to thank residents for the huge effort they have made to follow the rules and the guidance over the last two years and who have shown great consideration for others to get us to this point.  We must thank all those also who have come forward for vaccination.

“Now we can enjoy those greater freedoms and learn to live with Covid; but it is worth bearing in mind that rates are still very high and some people are still very poorly with the virus so let’s just take some care in how we go on in our daily lives.

“Good ventilation and letting fresh air into indoor spaces is still useful in reducing how much virus is in the air and face masks protect the wearer as well as others, so people might still choose to wear them in very crowded spaces.

“We know how to look after each other in North Yorkshire so I am sure we will carry on with that common sense approach and some basic Covid prevention measures.”

Although the vaccination uptake in North Yorkshire has been one of the highest nationally, at 80 per cent of the eligible population, people who remain unvaccinated are reminded once again that this is an evergreen offer and it is never too late to come forward.

Amanda Bloor, chief accountable officer for the North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Whether you’re yet to have your first COVID vaccination, or you’re due a booster dose, there are lots of opportunities across North Yorkshire and York to access the COVID vaccine at walk-in clinics and bookable appointments through the NHS National Booking Service. You can search online or call 119. There are a number of sites across the county and I would encourage everyone to come forward; it’s not too late to get a first dose.

“As we gradually move away from COVID restrictions and learn to live with coronavirus, getting the vaccine remains our best defence against serious illness caused by this virus.

“It’s also worth remembering that, while face coverings will no longer be mandatory in many settings, the requirement to wear a face mask and adhere to social distancing remain in place in healthcare settings such as doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.

“These measures will help protect staff and patients, particularly those who are clinically vulnerable and at greater risk from COVID, and who may still be anxious about attending appointments.”

Richard Webb, Director of Health and Adult Services at North Yorkshire County Council said people should use their common sense and continue to wash hands and wear a face mask if they felt a need in confined and busy places.  If unvaccinated, they still had the offer to come forward and “grab a jab”.

He said: “It is good news that restrictions are being eased but rates are likely to remain high in North Yorkshire for some time so we just need to carry on being careful. If we compare it to Yorkshire hills it’s a bit like being on Whernside – a long slow trudge and we are not yet over the top.”

Liz Kemp, the owner of Kemps General Store in Malton and Whitby said the country needed adapt to a new norm but she expected that people would carry on wearing masks in busy places.

She said: “Yorkshire rates are not dropping in the same way as elsewhere in the UK so I think it is still important to be cautious. Our staff will make a choice on face masks – it has been so hard not being able to see people smile and if you wear glasses, working with a face mask eight hours a day has been so very difficult! But we all need to carry on being careful for the time being.”

North Yorkshire County Council has redeployed tens of people from its wider workforce who have stepped forward during the current Omicron spike to volunteer for social care roles because of reduced staffing levels.

Staff have been reorganised into different roles and taken on different dutiesto help keep people safe and well.

Justine Brooksbank, County Council Assistant Chief Executive said: “We are really grateful to council staff who have temporarily volunteered to undertake different duties and roles in social care while we manage absences due to Covid. It’s just another example of people in all walks of life across the county who have gone the extra mile to help others during challenging times.”

Francesca Floris, who works in the council recruitment team, is one of the volunteers.  She will begin her induction next week at Silver Birches elderly people’s home in Filey to provide domestic support.

“I have always had an interest in care-related work,” she said.  “My mum has volunteered and this sparked my enthusiasm. However when I have considered this previously, I thought that perhaps I wasn’t qualified or experienced enough or that due to study and other commitments that I might not be able to offer the hours needed.

“Therefore when I realised that you didn’t need experience and hours were flexible, together with the value set of being able to empathise with people, problem solve and get things done, it really resonated with me.

“I am looking forward to making a difference in my local community.”