Eight Months of Corona Virus – How its Changed Us

Looking back to the start of January 2020, if you were like me and my family, we were looking to see the arrival of 2020 (a New Year!) with huge hope for individuals and our family fortunes being uplifted. All the New Year resolutions lined up – like the always battle to “lose the weight!”.
Most of our thoughts in the family were being coloured around the local football rivalry, and the good nature banter that was being slapped about. Summer holidays, the children school year, as they move from Primary to Secondary, and the fruits of retirement for others.

I was looking forward to fighting for my Wednesfield North seat again in the Local City Council elections, destined for the month of May!

Well who would have thought looking back over the last 8 months of this year, that our lives would have been so turned upside down.

The Global Pandemic (Corona Virus) arrived and caught the Conservative Government unprepared.
That meant that the whole of the UK was unprepared.

Who would have thought that City of Wolverhampton with a thousand years of history behind it, would have witnessed such a disruption in its citizens lives in 2020? Of course, the Government stopped the Local Elections, giving an additional year to Councillors readying to fight for Council seats across the Country. That is where I am today. Serving an additional year, and ready to fight for my seat now in May 2021.

Back in January Corona Virus was not in our everyday vocabulary like it is now. I find myself this morning in quiet contemplation thinking of the families that are grieving having lost loved ones to Covid-19. We all know someone who has been affected by this vile virus.

Lives here in our City have been disrupted, affected painfully by grief, and we have watched as loved ones futures have been affected. Company brands have collapsed, nationally known chains have closed. Jobs have been lost, some in our families, have been made redundant. Working from home has become the new normal, and Towns and City Centres have quickly redesigned their streets and avenues, for pedestrians and cycles.

Public transport as we have known it for a century is no more. Can’t travel on a bus or a train or tram without a face guard or covering. Government forcing closure of bus routes and reducing train and tram timetables. Pay a thought to Coach companies some who have been trading for a hundred years…who are so badly affected by the travel bans, and who have not been successful in gaining full Government support for their industry.

Bright individual futures have been clouded. Schools closed and children’s exams have been chaotic. Travel bans come and go at amazing speed, rafts of new legislation ban us from meeting family in large groups, the home of our relatives barred if you are not in their ‘bubble’. No visiting a Pub without giving a name for ‘track and trace’, shopping really does have to be planned, New words pepper our conversation – ‘Isolation’, ‘Social distancing’, ‘Face Masks’, ‘Lock down’, ‘Covid-19’.

Who would have thought that you couldn’t attend a wedding, or the Sunday Church or Religious service, you always attend would be banned, or that singing at a funeral would not be allowed! Or that you would have a limit on the number of people that could be present at a funeral. Goodness! We have had such a huge 8 months of change. It turned our lives up side down. It challenged our thoughts now on a daily basis. It changed our habits, and we have changed our habits.

It’s remarkable as to what we have done as a city and a population in a short eight months period.
So, this is what has actually happened in our City –

The first case of COVID-19 in Wolverhampton was confirmed on 07 March 2020. Since then there have been 1,566 confirmed cases in the city (as at 19 August 2020) .
The City Council have a very fine Public Health Director, and he has been working tirelessly to ensure that the best advice is on offer to the City of Wolverhampton. We receive help and guidance from Public Health England, the NHS and of course from Central Government.

As a City Councillor I have recently been informed that there has been a |Review of Care Homes in the City. The review looked at the current risk indicators in Wolverhampton, and neighbouring authorities. A decision to advise all care homes within the city boundary to temporarily halt all non-essential social visiting in internal areas of care homes, has been made. Essential and compassionate visiting (health related or end of life visits), and drive-thru or garden visiting, all with suitable infection prevention measures in place, can continue.

This decision has been taken due to a small but continued increase in coronavirus infection rates both locally and regionally, where we are not able to rule out a potential increase in level of transmission in the community. Our understanding of how the virus moves around our communities is still being developed and we feel it is necessary to take this precautionary measure in order to protect people in high risk groups that live in care homes. This will also help to try to reduce the risk of outbreaks occurring in care homes similar to those that were seen in the first few weeks of the pandemic.

City Officials will continue to review the information available to us daily, and will be considering whether the overall visiting status can be changed to enable indoor social visiting to re-commence.

The Public Health team have said “We appreciate everyone’s support in helping us to ensure we minimise risk where possible to our relatives and staff that live and work in care homes in the city.”

So finally having galloped through the last eight months I will try and keep everyone informed of actions through these pages, and the Twitter and Facebook pages I operate on a daily basis. Your three City Councillors, Rita Potter, Mary Bateman and myself strive to continue to serve.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more