HCC – COVID-19 Update

Dear Partner,

Welcome to the first edition of Hertfordshire County Council’s new weekly stakeholder bulletin. This bulletin will provide you with updates on how the county Council is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, detailing actions the Council has taken over the past week, as well as future preparations currently in development.

The bulletin is intended to support the knowledge included in the Council’s other frequent communications provided to MPs, Councillors, staff and residents. In addition, a more detailed  COVID-19 update report will be going to the council’s Special Cabinet Panel on 6 May.

Now entering the sixth week of lockdown, it makes us both extremely proud to see how well everyone is working together to overcome the challenges we are all currently facing. Like many of you, it has been another busy week for all at HCC as we adapt our routines and processes to the challenges of this time.

The bulletin below highlights some of the key priorities and updates from the county council this week:

 Residential Care Homes / Supported Home Care

  • We continue to see a rise in the number of deaths of care home residents – in hospital and in the care homes.
  • We are working closely with health partners as part of a coordinated effort to support homes with an outbreak, including advice on infection control and staff swabbing.  We have seen a welcome increase in care home residents and staff who are being swabbed through the Herts Urgent Care pathway.
  • We have also helped the NHS to release beds through a mixture of buying extra spaces in care homes and working to temporarily bring back into use two former care homes.

Supporting our most vulnerable residents

  • As part of Operation Shield, we have now made over 2,500 food and toiletry deliveries to individual households and have delivered over 1,700 parcels to Districts, food banks and charities.  494 prescription deliveries have also been made, supporting over 900 individuals.
  • HertsHelp have continued to receive increased call levels as a result of a leaflet being distributed to all Hertfordshire households, which offers advice and guidance for residents.
  • The Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership continues to operate and to accept referrals, both from the public and from professionals. Up to date information on support available on Domestic Abuse is available on the Herts Sunflower website.

Our work to support Hertfordshire’s schools

  • Discussions continue around planning for possible partial reopening of schools as and when Central Government provide a directive to do so.
  • Further work is being carried out with the Department for Education and the Cabinet Office in relation to those who are most vulnerable/subject to child protection measures and their school attendance.

Libraries

  • Whilst Hertfordshire libraries remain closed, the council is recommending the use of all online services. More information about library services can be found here.
  • Hertfordshire County Council has also recommenced a Home Delivery Service to supply books to Hertfordshire residents.

Redeployed HCC Staff

  • As of 15 April, a total of 849 Hertfordshire County Council staff have been redeployed to work in critical services to help fight Covid-19.
  • Around 270 Public Health clinicians have moved to frontline NHS roles, 17 on-call firefighters have been trained to support the East of England Ambulance service and 562 staff from suspended council services are being redeployed to Covid-19 response roles.

Testing

  • Council teams worked with NHS colleagues and the Military to establish three mobile test sites last weekend in Hemel Hempstead (69 tested), Watford (161 tested) and Stevenage (261 tested) for symptomatic key workers and essential staff.
  • We are pleased to see this response to our concerns about key workers previously having to travel to regional centres in Stansted and Wembley and are keen to retain greater local testing capacity.
  • We are working with the military to secure additional local testing facilities this coming weekend.

Household Waste Recycling Centres

  • The plan for reopening Household Waste Recycling Centres in Hertfordshire is being finalised and sets out a phased approach.
  • Communication to accompany any reopening will stress that visits should only be made if they are essential and highlight the rules on site, in line with national government guidance.
  • We anticipate traffic congestion around opened sites and are liaising with the police and highways over traffic management options.

More information

  • HCC website – containing coronavirus guidance and service updates
  • PPE online hub – providing guidance on PPE
  • Herts Help contactable on 0300 123 4044 – support for all Hertfordshire residents
  • Please contact our Corporate Policy team if there are other areas you would like more detail about.

With the Prime Minister now returning to work after recovering from coronavirus, we expect the government to deliver further national announcements next week, detailing both the country’s continued response to the pandemic and its strategy for delivering its recovery programme. We intend to use these bulletins to keep you informed on HCC updates and future plans in line with these announcements.

Finally, we would once again like to reiterate our thanks to all of you for helping us work through the challenges this country, and all of us here in Hertfordshire are facing. We must continue to work together through these challenges and ensure that Hertfordshire is united against coronavirus.