A Waikato city that tops the region’s Covid-19 case list is trying hard to remain optimistic, but ongoing lockdown extensions are fueling frustration, anger and fear.
As of Sunday afternoon, there were 30 community cases in the Te Awamutu region, the largest cluster of cases among the 83 reported for the region.
The surge in cases in the city prompted three Waipā County Councilors to turn the camera on themselves and post a social media video advocating getting people tested and vaccinated.
“This is new to us and to be honest it was pretty uncomfortable, but we need to move out of this in a new way,” said Deputy Mayor Liz Stolwyk.
* Four new cases of Covid-19 in the Waikato community, two of them unconnected
* Eight cases of Te Awamutu Covid-19, only three places of interest
* Covid-19: 60 new virus cases in Delta community outbreak
Waipā District Councilors Andrew Brown, Liz Stolwyk and Lou Brown made their first social media video together urging the people of Te Awamutu to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
“People are angry because they want to get back into business and back into their lives, but Level 3 is very restrictive.
“Ninety percent vaccination is the new target and it is achievable, but we want it to happen much earlier than Christmas time.”
Te Awamutu’s council members and cousins Lou and Andrew Brown, aged 75 and 67 respectively, agreed they wouldn’t normally take to social media.
But the two joined Stolwyk outside of Te Awamutu RSA to shoot the video ahead of the long bank holiday weekend.
Te Awamutu has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases but residents and business owners are trying to stay positive.
Andrew Brown said Sunday’s only positive case for the city offered a glimmer of hope.
“But really, we’re going to need several weeks without cases if we want to go down a level before Christmas.
“I’m also an entrepreneur and at the moment we can only pay rent and pay wages.”
Lou Brown, a former farmer, said the city’s rural sector also needs help to increase its vaccination rates.
Dozens of cars lined up at the Te Awamutu Events Center for a Covid-19 test.
“It’s hard to take time off from farming and a lot of people, like tanker drivers, are on the road temporarily, so we need to find a way to reach those people too.”
Stolwyk wanted to start a group to coordinate additional help for people struggling with their business or well-being.
Restrictions make it difficult for businesses, but Te Awamutu’s strong local sector is determined to weather the continued alert levels.
Kathy Kearns owns Kathy Cosmetics and Gifts and said people were mostly positive but some were frustrated by the uncertainty surrounding the weekly lockdown announcements.
“People are over it but trying to be positive. This will now be our new reality.”
Kearns sold makeup, houseplants, baked goods, and coffee from the front door.
“People have run down and made an effort.”
Kathy owner Kathy Kearns said she and her daughter Paige Kearns have seen customers with a positive attitude.
Narrative’s owner, Ellen Stevenson, said the town’s main street had been quiet, but people had gotten used to shopping in the alert levels.
The store sells sustainable items for the home, family and baby, and Stevenson said click-and-collect orders have increased.
People started venturing into town for a coffee or a bite to eat and trying to get on with life.
Narrative owner Ellen Stevenson said people were coming to terms with living in lockdown.
Stevenson said the store opened three years ago, allowing people to visit and browse the products in person.
Lockdown restrictions had made this impossible, but the community had supported and spent money on local businesses when they could.
Dave Gibson Locksmith and Gun Shop owner Noah Steiner said business was slow and people were whining a lot.
“We’re a locksmith and gun shop, so most of our customers are Jacinda haters and that makes it worse.”
He said customers were frustrated and upset with the restrictions and the government.
Dave Gibson locksmith and gun shop owner Noah Steiner said his customers were upset and frustrated by the restrictions.
Steiner said business was down to 20 per cent of what he saw before the lockdown, but thankfully emergency locksmith services are always required.
There were indications Covid was coming for Te Awamutu when sewage samples taken in the city on October 12 and 13 both tested positive for the virus.
A case was only confirmed in Kihikihi on October 17.
Then six cases were confirmed in Te Awamutu on October 19, two on October 20, eight on October 21 and five on October 22.
Seven more were reported on Saturday and one on Sunday.
Several points of interest for Te Awamutu are listed on the contact tracing map of the Department of Health’s website.
And the Ministry of Health’s vaccination data shows how eight different parts of Te Awamutu are doing and is updated every Wednesday.
At Te Awamutu Stadium as of October 20, 86.7 percent had received a dose, while 69.9 percent were fully vaccinated.
In the Fraser Street area, 88.5 percent had received a vaccine dose and 70.3 percent were fully vaccinated, and in Pekerau, 85.7 percent had received a vaccine and 65.3 percent were fully vaccinated.
In Te Awamutu Central, 85 percent had received a dose and 70.7 percent were fully vaccinated, while 80.2 percent of people in the Sherwin Park area had a vaccine and 62.1 percent were fully vaccinated.
In Te Awamutu North, 82.2 percent had received a dose of vaccine and 63.4 percent were fully vaccinated, and 81.2 percent of people in Te Awamutu West area had received a dose of vaccine and 61.3 percent were fully vaccinated.
In the Goodfellow Park area, 80.8 percent had had one vaccination and 60 percent were double-vaccinated.