A regional daily has made a front page plea for its patch to be given “intensive care” by the government due to coronavirus “spreading faster here than almost anywhere else”.
The Teesside Gazette has urged ministers to make helping Middlesbrough – where the COVID-19 death rate is twice the national average – a “priority for government”.
The Gazette and its Teesside Live sister site are calling for more funding for local authorities to deal with the situation and increased testing in Middlesbrough, which has the fourth highest rate of infection in the country “when population size is factored in”.
The demand was made on the Gazette’s front page on Monday.
In an accompanying editorial, content editor Mike Brown wrote: “Middlesbrough is in crisis. Coronavirus is spreading faster here than almost anywhere else, and the town’s COVID-19 death rate is twice the national average.
“Sadly, the town was already vulnerable to the worst effects of a public health emergency.
“Residents are more likely to suffer from deadly conditions like respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, life expectancy is already low, and Middlesbrough has some of the most deprived areas of the country.
“We’re used to being at the bottom of all the worst league tables. But it has to stop.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke, Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government at MHCLG, said the government had made an “unprecedented £3.2 billion available to local councils to fight this pandemic”.
The Department for Health and Social Care referred the Gazette to a general statement about at-risk groups when asked what steps it was taking to tackle Middlesbrough’s infection rate and mortality figures.
Brighton & Hove City Council leader Nancy Platts has thanked local journalists for their coverage of the coronavirus crisis.
In a column for Brighton daily the Argus, she said: “We are lucky in Brighton and Hove to have a range of strong local media outlets from print media, newspapers, radio, and television to online news.
“Now, more than ever, we feel the benefits of our local press who are helping to keep us informed, entertained and connected while indoors.
“I want to thank all our local journalists who even under these difficult circumstances are continuing to report on the issues that matter to local people.
Reliable journalism is crucial as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are fortunate to have that here.
“In particular, I want to pay tribute to Sarah Booker-Lewis, who is our local democracy reporter for Brighton and Hove. You will have seen her work across various local media outlets and in this public health crisis she is still following the ‘virtual’ council meetings and reporting on council business to keep residents informed and engaged with key decisions.”
David Boyle, head of circulation, said: “We are being inundated with calls from our readers right across Inverclyde who are desperate to get their Tele delivered again.
“Equally, we have more and more of our delivery agents eager to get back out delivering the news so that everyone can stay fully informed about what’s happening in their community – and the best way to do this is to read the Telegraph.”