Has Sheffield turned the corner on Covid?
Plus, the rest of our weekly briefing
Dear readers — welcome to our Monday briefing.
Today we have an in-depth look at the latest Covid data to see if the latest wave of the virus really is on the way down. We also have all our usual updates and recommendations and an obituary for a much-loved city photographer.
We got a great reaction to our weekend read about the future of Sheffield’s Old Town Hall. You can still read that piece here.
This week we’ll have two more great members-only stories. To get those stories in your inbox, join up as a member now with the button below. It costs less than £1.50 a week if you join for a year (£70).
This week’s weather
The main story: Has Covid been beaten?
Top line: We’re now two weeks on from so-called “Freedom Day”, when all remaining Covid restrictions were lifted on July 19. Many people — including the health secretary — predicted big increases in new cases. But instead the opposite has happened — infections are actually falling rapidly.
Rates dropping: The Covid case rate — the number of positive cases per 100,000 residents over seven days — has fallen sharply in Sheffield. In the seven days to July 27, it came down by 29.3% to 414.3. The England case rate is currently 291, down 35.1% from a week ago. Both those rates are still very high, of course, but the direction of travel is surprising and promising.
What’s going on: In truth, nobody knows. Schools finishing in mid-July is thought by some to be one possible reason, as is the end of the Euro 2020 tournament. Some have suggested we might even be approaching some level of “herd immunity” — from a combination of past infections and vaccines. This Guardian article is a good summary of the current situation. One of the things that is worrying some is the sharpness of the peak. None of the previous waves ended as suddenly.
Healthcare: There are now 70 patients in hospital in Sheffield being treated for Covid-19, 19 of whom were admitted on July 25 alone. However, just seven of these patients are on ventilation, a decline of three from last week.
Four deaths linked to the virus have taken place in the last week in Sheffield’s hospitals and seven have taken place in the last fortnight.
The levels of hospitalisations and deaths are the highest the city has had since the early spring but are still well below the January peak.
Vaccines: Covid infection is still possible even in people who have had two jabs although it’s likely to be far less severe. But as we’ve reported before, wide variations in vaccination levels have developed in Sheffield, leaving some deprived areas of the city with large numbers of people not yet fully protected by two doses.
In Burngreave and Grimesthorpe, just 52.7% of people have had their first dose, while only 35.7% have had their second dose.
In Sandygate and Crosspool, 90.5% of people have had their first dose and 82.3% have had both doses.
Analysis: The full effects of “Freedom Day” have not yet filtered through. The Guardian story says people in government think that if by next Friday cases are still falling, the country will genuinely have turned the corner on Covid. The big question will now become: how can younger people and residents in more deprived communities be persuaded to get the vaccine before the winter arrives…
The Outdoor City
A new marketing campaign based on Sheffield’s reputation as “The Outdoor City” has been released online. The full video can be found at the Outdoor City website but a shortened version has been created for the Visit Sheffield Twitter campaign above. The Twitter video is introduced by Sheffield-based Olympic climber Shauna Coxsey, who will start her campaign in the Tokyo 2020 Games on Wednesday.
The Star reports that the findings of a Sheffield City Council racism report, commissioned after the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, are to be opened to consultation. The review found that aspects of the city’s heritage were rooted in racism, colonialism and slavery but argues for a process of education and debate.
Two people have been arrested — one of them a 15-year-old boy — after a man died on the Manor estate on Thursday night. The boy and a 49-year-old man were both arrested on suspicion of murder. The dead man was named on Saturday by police as 42-year-old Alan Anthony Marcus Sumner.
Our favourite reads
Yorkshire Post reporter Chris Burn is the journalist with the most in-depth knowledge of the Sheffield tree scandal. Here he speaks to protesters Calvin Payne and Simon Crump who have now written a book — Persons Unknown: The Battle for Sheffield's Street Trees — about the long-running saga.
Lawrie Harvey from the Looking Up Sheffield podcast has just published a new blog about what he thinks might be one of Sheffield’s most historic and colourful streets. Harvey walks down Club Mill Road, which runs from Wardsend Cemetery to the Fairfield Inn, taking in hundreds of years of the city’s fascinating history along the way.
Not so much one read as a few weeks’ worth, Chris Hobbs’ Sheffield history website contains more interesting information on one page than your average newspaper does in a month. We’ve used his stories to research a number of our pieces already but other highlights include the notorious East House murders and the destruction of the Marples Hotel.
Two Olympics stories have featured Sheffield-based athletes this week. This Guardian piece speaks to the aforementioned Shauna Coxsey about climbing’s Olympic debut and her decision to retire after the Games. And this Yahoo News piece speaks to trampolining bronze medallist Bryony Page (and her dad) about the sacrifices needed to reach the top.
The Star today reports on efforts to honour countryside campaigner Ethel Haythornthwaite with a blue plaque outside her former Endcliffe Vale Road home. The campaign is being backed by the CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire and aims to raise £5,000 with a crowdfunding appeal. The Tribune reported on Ethel’s life and work in June.
Things to do
Art: The Site Gallery on Brown Street is currently hosting an exhibition of work by city artist Conor Rogers. Conor grew up on the Manor estate and many of the pieces are inspired by his childhood experiences on the much-maligned Sheffield council estate. The exhibition features painting, spoken word poetry, sound installation and sculpture and will run until August 22.
Food and drink: We’ve waited a long time for it to come back but Sheffield’s hugely popular Peddlers market will return this weekend for the first time this year. On Friday 6 and Saturday 7 August, 10 food sellers will cram into the Neepsend warehouse alongside bars, DJs and live music. Highlights include vegan junk food from Doner Summer and Birmingham Vietnamese street food stall Brum Mi.
Installation: A “dystopian model village experience” created by a former member of 1990s pop-band-turned-art-experiment The KLF arrives in Sheffield this week. The four 1:24 scale concrete tower blocks of “Estate” complete with miniature interiors come housed in a 40-foot shipping container and will be in place outside Theatre Deli on St Mary’s Gate from August 5-28. Book your place here.
Music: The next installment of Sheffield’s Summer In The Outdoor City series of events will see the city’s legendary Leadmill music venue take over Tudor Square. Leadmill in the Square will take place on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 August and will feature street art performances as well as sets from Sheffield artists including acoustic guitarist and vocalist Jacob Oldroyd and retro-pop band Minds Idle.
Exhibition: Architecture students from the University of Sheffield have created a new exhibition in the S1 Artspace gallery at Park Hill. The work shows three possible designs for a temporary pavilion at the estate which will be constructed in early 2022. The exhibition is open now and will run until September 25. Feedback gained from the show will help steer the final design.
Who will the next Doctor be?
As Jodie Whittaker announces she will quit the BBC’s long-running Doctor Who show in Autumn 2022, we thought it would be nice to remember her first appearance as the Doctor in February 2018. The Timelord’s famous Tardis appeared outside Park Hill flats and at several other locations around the city, while the actors were filmed at Park Square, Sheffield railway station and Ecclesall Road.
Tributes have been paid to Sheffield photographer Jim Lambert, who has died aged 65. Jim was a long-standing member of the popular Sheffield Facebook group Pictures of Sheffield Old and New. A talented amateur snapper himself, Jim was instrumental in securing a major exhibition of the group’s work at the former Castle Market site in 2010.
Since then members of the group have exhibited work at the Cambridge Street Showcase, Northern General Hospital’s Clock Tower Art Gallery and the Winter Garden. Friend and fellow group member Hedley Bishop said Jim loved taking photos of Sheffield and was a huge supporter of local art shows and community events. “We will miss him,” he added.