The data that shows why we need a ‘High’ COVID-19 alert level

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Essex County Council, with the support of partners and MPs, has applied to the Secretary of State for Health for the local alert level for coronavirus to be raised from the ‘Medium’ to the ‘High’ level.

This request has not been made lightly. We appreciate the implications of Essex moving to ‘High’ level measures, however we truly believe that this is in the best interests of residents and businesses. This is because it will reduce the rapidly increasing number of cases, prevent further deaths, and protect businesses from ‘Very High’ level restrictions being introduced.

Below, we have outlined the data we have used to inform our request and the rationale for taking this step.


Cases of coronavirus are rapidly increasing all over Essex. Analysis has shown that all areas (except Maldon at the time of the analysis) had moved to epidemic growth. This means that cases have been doubling every week, as evidenced in the table below.

Bar chart showing the number of weekly COVID-19 cases by district

Bar chart showing COVID-19 cases by district in Essex per week

The difference in rates for each area between 1-11 October are also shown below. The rates are the number of cases per 100,000 residents per week and while they are low, the fact remains they are doubling everywhere across Essex. We believe that this trend will continue over the coming weeks and we will soon find ourselves in the same position as many northern towns.

District1 October cases per 100,000 per week11 October cases per 100,000 per week
Castle Point23.2464.18
Epping Forest42.5281.25

In the table above, you will note that the place with the lowest rates now have rates similar to those of places with the highest rates 10 days ago. The places in Essex with the lowest rates are therefore only a week or so behind those with the highest rates, which are in turn are a week or so behind areas in the North and Midlands.

Additionally, while hospital admissions are thankfully low, the fact remains that there are currently 57 people with coronavirus in Essex hospitals, while a month ago there were none. There have also been 13 deaths due to COVID-19 in Essex hospitals in the last three weeks, following a month with no deaths.

While these numbers remain low, they are increasing at an alarming rate and if we don’t take action soon, we are likely to see a doubling in line with the increasing cases soon.

The County Council has a responsibility to make decisions based on what the evidence tells us, in order to protect residents, local health services, schools and businesses, and we have considered how best to do this for the people of Essex. The interventions implemented within the ‘High’ tier of measures have been devised by SAGE to reduce the rate of transmission and reverse case growth.

We have used the below model to show the potential impact if the introduction of ‘High’ level restrictions is delayed.

Line graph showing how cases of COVID-19 will increase if we delay moving Essex into ‘High’ alert level

line graph showing how cases of COVID-19 will increase if we delay moving Essex into 'High' alert level

We believe that by moving to Tier Two sooner, the curve will turn more quickly and the peak will be lower. This will reduce the time Essex spends within this tier, as well as the chances of the county needing to move to ‘Very High’. It is our intention that if approved by the Secretary of State, we will work rapidly to reduce the amount of time spent under Tier Two restrictions.

It has not been an easy decision to make this request, but we feel on balance that it is absolutely the correct one for Essex at this time.