The Chief Executive will be in attendance to provide the Board with an update in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19 and other organisational matters.
The Chief Executive was in attendance and provided an update to the Board in respect of the following:-
· COVID-19 update
· Executive decisions, August
In terms of the latest local COVID-19 data, as at 6 September 2021 the rolling seven-day rate of cases per 100k of the Middlesbrough population was as follows:
Reference was made to the vaccination rates and to date 66.2% of over 18’s in Middlesbrough had received 2 doses of the vaccine. This compared with 84.4 % in Northumberland, which had the highest rate in the North East region. It was emphasised that the uptake rates by Council area did not take account of the age demographics. Once deprivation and BAME was considered, it became more difficult for Middlesbrough to match Northumberland.
In terms of vaccination by age range 13.2 % of young people in Middlesbrough aged 15 to 18 had received 2 doses of the vaccine and the vaccination rates increased with age. For example, 86.7 % of people aged 55 to 59 in Middlesbrough had received 2 doses of the vaccine and 90.7 % of people aged over 90 had received their 2 doses.
In relation to the Executive decisions scheduled taken in July it was noted that a number of reports had been considered. These included; a report on Community Engagement; a Corporate Debt Management Policy; the Surveillance Policy and Children’s Improvement Plan.
In respect of the reoccupation of Council buildings by staff it was advised that these arrangements would be finalised in September and that a phased reoccupation was planned. Reoccupation would commence from 4 October 2021 – subject to no major increase in transmission following the return of schools – within the context of blended working and on a phased basis, over the period October to December 2021.
Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.
A Member of the Board queried whether COVID testing sites were still operating in Middlesbrough. The Chief Executive advised that all of the sites were still operational and in the 7 days between the 24th and 31st August over 2,500 people in Middlesbrough had used those sites. It was also queried as to how long the testing sites would remain in place and it was advised that this information would be brought back to the next meeting of the Board.
In terms of the availability of vaccinations for students, at both Teesside University and the local colleges, it was queried as to whether any walk-in provision for students to have their vaccines was available at these sites. The Chief Executive advised that Teesside University had specific arrangements in place for their students and had utilised some of their dedicated space to provide COVID vaccinations throughout the pandemic. In respect of the college, which was drawing in students from across Teesside the arrangements were slightly different. However, on recruitment days and open days the Melissa Bus had been located at the colleges, walk-in appointments were available and this approach was set to continue.
A Member queried whether any thought had been given to the fact that infection rates elsewhere in the country were increasing and last year around October time the rates had increased in Middlesbrough substantially. The Chief Executive advised that Middlesbrough should not relax in terms of COVID, as the town’s rates were high but it was unknown how transmission rates would play out over the next few months. In terms of risk there was a significant proportion of the town’s adult population who had not been vaccination and a significant proportion whose immunity may wane over the next few months. In addition, the availability of staff and vaccines over the next few months was unknown, schools had only recently returned and winter time was coming up when flu would be more prevalent. It was emphasised that Middlesbrough needed to remain fixated on COVID otherwise potentially the town would face similar issues to last year. It was likely that all of these factors combined would result in an increase rather than decrease in the future prevalence rates of COVID.
The Chair thanked the Chief Executive for his attendance and contribution to the meeting. NOTED