Outbreak control, and the county council’s new leader

The Burton-on-Trent Covid-19 outbreak continues to be our major focus in Test and Trace.  The key here has been to move early, adapt the tactics to suit the circumstances, and build and maintain consensus.  We have conducted testing in one of the mosques in Burton, which is a first, with over 360 people tested in one day.  We have also been engaging closely with the community; I am immensely grateful to Councillor Syed Hussein who has been pivotal in this effort, as well as to our other county council and borough council members, our Public Health team and NHS and East Staffordshire Borough Council partners.  I have said often that we are “learning by doing” in these activities, but it is pleasing to note that our assumption that building consensus is more important than powers issued by central government is being borne out in practice.    

More broadly on controlling outbreaks, the strategy of moving early and with confidence has been vindicated by the early shutting down of a potential outbreak at a Staffordshire farm late last week; the first case was identified on Tuesday; the team were on site to establish control and implement additional measures on the Wednesday; testing took place on the Thursday; and with results received on the Saturday, the outbreak was shut down.  Speaking this week to Clive Wright, the Regional Convenor for the Test and Trace programme, the difference between our outbreak and the Herefordshire vegetable farm where there are over 100 positive cases, and is still running, is about 48 hours. 

Away from Coronavirus, you will have seen the announcement that Staffordshire County Council has a new Leader in Councillor Alan White, who was voted in at a virtual Annual Council Meeting held on Microsoft Teams on Thursday.  This is another first in terms of our use of technology, and it went very well indeed; Members appeared to be enjoying the experience, and, from an interested observer’s viewpoint, the level of debate and engagement matched that which we see in the Council Chamber on a normal meeting.  We very much looking forward to working with Alan and his Cabinet on the recovery of Staffordshire’s economy and society from the Coronavirus pandemic. 

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