The continuing toll of Covid and the lockdowns on the health of children and adults across York will take “a generation to recover from”, according to a health chief.
Director of public health Sharon Stoltz said in her annual report that the city had “suffered hugely” over the past two years, while the longer term physical and mental effects have also had “massive economic and social implications”.
Across the pandemic, 512 deaths of York residents have been recorded with Covid on their death certificates, as of August 2022, and there remain around 3,000 cases of long Covid.
Covid is continuing to put the NHS under huge strain due to hospital admissions and the virus is still resulting in deaths.
In her ‘pandemic years’ report, Ms Stoltz said a key focus for the public health team was the after-effects of Covid, including an increase in “worrying levels of alcohol intake.”
She told senior councillors: “We know that alcohol use has gone up. We know that people have experienced weight gain and we know that there have been particular impacts on individuals’ mental health – and we know that those factors have also had an impact on an increase of domestic abuse.”
Children and young people have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic, according to Ms Stoltz, who recommended that a new plan for them is drawn up in York.
Health staff have been reporting a pattern of delayed development in so-called Covid babies, particularly around speech and language, but also sensory and cognitive development.
Ms Stoltz said that while it was too early to tell from the data, she was sure that things like cancelled cancer screenings and restricted access to primary care during the pandemic will have led to shorter life expectancies and an increase in the number of excess deaths.
She added: “There’s a great deal of work that needs to be done as we come out of the pandemic.
“Some of our most vulnerable residents will have suffered the worst impacts of the pandemic and are now experiencing the worst impacts of the cost of living.”
Executive member for adult social care and public health Coun Carol Runciman thanked Ms Stoltz and her team for their “dedicated work and incredible commitment” during the pandemic.
She added: “We know that many people across the city are still feeling the impact of the virus on their mental and physical health, as well as their financial wellbeing.
“Support for those struggling is still available – do ask for help and make sure you don’t suffer in silence.”
Health and social care workers, people with a weakened immune system, pregnant women and others at greater risk from the virus can already get their autumn Covid booster jab, along with those over 65.