The local news is good. South West Shropshire is coming close to Covid free. Shropshire and Telford cases of Covid-19 are now low. In the week to 15 March, there were fewer than three coronavirus cases identified in each of the Ludlow, Bishop’s Castle, Cleobury, Church Stretton and Craven Arms areas.
Across the Channel, it is not so comfortable, with new lockdowns announced in France and Poland. Cases are rising in north Herefordshire though they are not yet at a high level.
Nationally the R Number is dropping and on Friday R was estimated to be between 0.6 and 0.9. Anything below 1.0 means we are going in the right direction.
After a hesitant start in some parts of Shropshire, including here in the south west, the vaccine programme has been a remarkable effort. By 14 March, 5,638 people in Ludlow town had received at least one dose of vaccine, half our population.
We have seen almost no vaccine hesitancy in Ludlow. Quite the opposite. I have been impressed by how keen people have been to get vaccinated. For weeks getting the jab seemed to be the only topic in town. A taxi driver said to me the other day:
“You know Andy. I feel proud to have had the jab. It will help me in my job and I’m doing my bit for the community at the same time.”
But the government has warned that there will be vaccine shortage from the end of the month due to problems with supplies from India. If the delayed five million doses were ready, vaccination of people over 40 would have begun by the end of March. This is now delayed and vaccine stocks will be used for the nine priority high risk groups and second doses.
It is not yet time to party. But that time is coming. I’m not a party animal but I think even I will dance with relief when we regain our freedoms.