According to latest figures, 164 people have died in the town from Covid-19, with 57 of those in a care home or hospice.
Public Health England leaders are working alongside medics at the Department of Health and Social Care locally, contacting care homes and testing both frontline staff and residents.
Julia Burrows, director of Public Health in Barnsley, said: “People will have seen and heard lots in the media about the increase in capacity to test people, whether that’s health and social care frontline workers, key workers or vulnerable people in our care homes./
“We’ll continue to work with our local health partners as they offer to test local frontline staff as part of the national testing arrangements.
“There’s a national plan in place with a structured approach to how we test all residents and staff in care home settings, and it’s our job locally to make sure that we sensibly prioritise which care homes quickly receive the testing in which order to protect people as much as possible.”
Care homes across Barnsley have had 23 people recover from coronavirus, Ms Burrows added, but it’s hoped increased testing will halt April’s spike.
“We’re working with organisations across Barnsley to understand how Coronavirus affects local people and how best to support them to reduce and prevent the risk,” Ms Burrows said.
“A key part of this work is to identify those at greatest risk.
“The majority of/ all deaths have occurred in people over the age of 75./ We’ve also seen more people than we’d have expected die of non-coronavirus causes and we’re investigating the reasons why we’ve seen such relatively high numbers of deaths during April./
“It’s challenging to map the rate of the virus and who it affects without having a detailed understanding of people’s information such as their age and pre-existing health conditions./ /
“People may have read that the government is recommending fabric homemade face coverings for use when out in enclosed spaces./
“We’ll be telling people more about our plans to make these readily available to Barnsley residents, as we believe they are an important way to protect others if we all cover our nose and mouth when we are out and about.”
More than 2,500 residents have been helped with food parcels and almost 1,300 have signed up to become a community responder, helping socially isolated people to obtain vital items.
Ms Burrows added: “We know the virus has had a devastating impact on lots of people. Each death represents a terrible loss to the family and friend of those whose lives have been cut short, and I feel so sad to think about the suffering people are experiencing; our deepest sympathies are with those who have lost someone during this time.
“I’m sure it’s clear to everyone that this is much more than a health crisis./ It’s a human, economic and social crisis, and we’re all experiencing and coping with the effects of coronavirus differently./
“Many people are finding it increasingly difficult to afford rent, bills and food and struggle to access the services they need. This is likely to have a significant toll on both people’s physical and mental health./ /
“The pandemic will affect people’s short, medium and long-term mental health./ We’ve had to find a new ‘normal’ in our lives, and this has presented differing challenges for people./ Longer-term, we need to support people and communities to build up their resilience and ability to cope with a different looking Barnsley./ / /
“During the dreadfulness of this pandemic, we’ve seen countless amazing examples of people and communities pulling together. It’s something that Barnsley is known for, and people have shown that.
“This community spirit will be a driving force behind moving Barnsley forward from coronavirus.”