Council figures show Stockton had a rate of 2479.9 cases per 100,000 in the week to January 2. Rates have soared in the post-Christmas period across Teesside and the nation.
The high rate area encompassed High Grange, Billingham, and Wolviston. Seal Sands engineer John Lumley has lived in the village for 25 years.
He said he went out for New Year’s Eve in Sedgefield but hadn’t heard any reports of any partygoers getting ill.
Mr Lumley said: “I was just talking to a neighbour this morning and he said the lad across the road had it. His brother had it and all his family have got it.”
The grandfather said they got tested regularly – and they had a few cases at Seal Sands.
“It’s not unlike anywhere else – they keep a tight hold on it at work,” he added.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust officials described the situation as “tight but manageable” at the hospital a week ago.
The trust confirmed it was treating 101 covid patients on Monday with one person in intensive care. This is up from just 28 patients on Christmas Eve.
A spokesman added: “Like every organisation, we are feeling the effects of covid among our colleagues but our robust measures and clinical procedures are ensuring patient care and safety is maintained.”
Bungalows on The Park are mainly occupied by Wolviston’s older folk.
Villager Beryl Saunders said her husband had just had a stroke so they don’t go out far at the moment.
She said: “We’re dead careful – if we have family round we go to the door and we have plenty of people to help. We’ve been ok up to now. We’re just lucky and trying to stay safe.”
Isolating workers had been a problem for a number of workplaces. Wolviston’s Kutting Korners hairdressers has two of its seven staff members off at the moment.
Owner Cheryl Earnshaw said they’d seen a few appointment cancellations in the run up to New Year.
“We don’t think we’re any more affected than anybody else,” she added.
Colleague Ashleigh Jones believed it was Billingham where more cases were being seen.
“I know salons in Stockton and they’re (facing) the exact same as us,” she said.
This winter has been the first time the salon has seen staff off with covid. Ms Earnshaw said the salon of 21 years said business had taken a hit.
She added: “We’ve not had people going to weddings and parties or people getting their hair done for holidays.”
Vaccinations rates in Wolviston and Billingham North are relatively high for Teesside.
Almost 70 per cent of all those over 12 had received their third booster jab as of January 8 – and more than 85 per cent were double vaccinated.
A total of 59.6 per cent of Stockton borough’s population had received a booster jab up to January 8.
One elderly Billingham resident who didn’t wish to be named said she didn’t know anybody nearby who’d had the virus.
She added: “We’ve always gone out to get our own shopping since the beginning – things were good at the beginning where you went in door and out the other.
“I was in a shop in Middlesbrough a couple of weeks ago – people had to walk in one door and out the other. There was a security man stood there – and this guy walked in from the door you go out of.
“He said ‘excuse me – that’s the out door’. He told him ‘nobody’s died have they?’ and I felt like saying thousands have.”
Billingham’s Mandy Colledge said she knew plenty of people who’d had covid but not in the area – with her five year-old grandson catching the virus before Christmas.
She added: “I still get angry at the people allowed to go into the shops and getting away with not wearing a mask. But that’s in the minority not the majority. The majority of people have masks on but you always get those odd ones.”
South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust is treating three times the number of patients it was seeing before Christmas. David Reaich, from the trust, told BBC Radio Tees the rise in patients seen at its sites was likely to rise further.
He added: “We are certainly seeing higher admissions on a day-to-day basis than for quite some time. The likelihood is it will continue because community cases are rising. I think we are going to have a difficult January. Let’s see how things go over the next two to three weeks.”