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Girl, 12, runs marathon in back garden

Hope Elliott ran 845 laps of her back garden to complete a marathon while in isolation due to the coronavirus crisis and raised more than £250 for Cancer Research.

Hope Elliott ran a marathon in her back garden

Twelve more deaths in Devon and Cornwall

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

A further 12 people who had tested positive for coronavirus in Devon and Cornwall have died, bringing the total to 39.

The latest data from the NHS shows one person in Exeter, two people in Plymouth, three in Torbay, and six people in Cornwall have died, bringing the UK total to 2,352.

563 people who had tested positive for coronavirus died in the last 24 hours.

Coronavirus: UK deaths rise to 2,352 amid rush to test medics

Coronavirus in UK: How many confirmed cases are there in your area?

What is the coronavirus?

Boy, 13, sets up pantry outside house

A 13-year-old boy has set up a pantry outside his house in Babbacombe, Devon.

It's to help the vulnerable avoid a trip to the shops and anyone who might be struggling with finding essentials.

A 13-year-old boy has set up a pantry outside his house.

Merlin helicopters to help NHS fight coronavirus

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

Helicopters usually used to hunt down submarines have been reassigned to help the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

Three Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose will provide "round-the-clock assistance to the NHS" and ambulance service, acting as "flying ambulances and transporters, flying supplies and personnel".

They will cover a population of more than 4.5 million people across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Bristol, Somerset, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands.

Merlin heliopter
RNAS Culdrose

Harbour master urges end to recreational watersports

BBC Radio Devon

Exeter's harbour master has urged people to stop using the River Exe for recreational activities.

People are continuing to use the river for kite surfing and paddle boarding, which is not essential and could lead to a fine for those taking part.

Harbourmaster Grahame Forshaw said use of the river could put the ports staff and emergency services at unnecessary risk.

River Exe

Torbay helpline takes more than 2,000 calls

BBC Radio Devon

A new community helpline for people in Torbay has taken more than 2,000 calls in the last few days.

On Monday, calls to Torbay Community Development Trust were coming in at a rate of more than 50 an hour.

The helpline is for people who need help getting food and medical supplies, general advice or just a friendly voice at the end of the line.

Protective visors made using laser at Devon school

BBC Radio Devon

One of Devon's biggest schools has joined the effort to help medical staff who are on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff at Exmouth Community College have used a laser to create protective visors for a local GP surgery.

The college has donated about 50 pairs to the Exmouth Health Centre for staff to use.

Exmouth Community College

Seed sales grow during self-isolation

BBC Radio Devon

A Devon seeds company says it is working around the clock to fulfill orders.

Suttons Seeds, in Paignton, is setting up new systems in its factory to help staff pick and dispatch seeds, while remaining at a safe distance from each other.

The company says demand for its products is higher than anyone at the firm can remember.

If you take our seed sales, we're experiencing a 10-fold increase on average. So if we were taking 100 orders on a seed variety, we're now taking 1,000 orders on the same variety.

Hilary CutlerSutton Seeds

Police chief urges tourists to stay away from South West

The Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable, Shaun Sawyer, has made a direct plea to holidaymakers to stay away from the South West of England during Easter.

He said visitors would be welcome to Devon and Cornwall when the current crisis was over but for the time being people should stay in their own homes.

Chief Constable, Shaun Sawyer

My message to you right now is please do not come. Whilst coronavirus is with us, it is essential that you stay at home to keep your loved ones safe, and that we stay at home. We have restrictions here, on the people who live here."

Shaun SawyerChief Constable, Devon & Cornwall Police

'Don't be alarmed' by ambulance staff in PPE

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

The ambulance service wants to reassure members of the public who see their staff responding to calls in personal protective equipment.

The South West Ambulance Service Trust said it did not mean they thought someone had coronvirus, they were just being "as careful as possible for everyone's safety".

Staff member wearing PPE
South Western Ambulance Service Trust

A spokesperson said: "You may see more of our staff wearing surgical masks and disposal aprons along with other Personal Protective Equipment when they respond to a 999 call.

"Please don’t be alarmed, we are simply doing everything we can to protect our staff and our patients as much as possible."

Staff member wearing PPE
South Western Ambulance Service Trust

Parking restrictions relaxed across Devon

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Councils across Devon have relaxed parking restrictions in car parks that they run, with some suspending enforcement and charges entirely.

South Hams, West Devon, Plymouth and North Devon councils have suspended charges in all of the car parks that they manage, while East Devon, Exeter and Torbay are offering free parking to NHS staff, social care staff and volunteers, as is Devon County Council at County Hall.

Parking restrictions on some of Devon’s roads had already been temporarily relaxed by Devon County Council during the coronavirus outbreak.

Motorists will still be banned from parking on double yellow lines and key routes, but in peripheral or some residential areas, enforcement action will no longer be taken.

The government is urging people to stay at home, but people are still allowed to travel to a shop for basic necessities, for medical reasons, or to travel to work if they cannot work from home.

Parking charges sign

Staff praised for new ICU build

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

The NHS trust that runs Derriford Hospital has praised staff for managing to put together a new ICU unit to help tackle coronavirus.

The University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said the project was the culmination of "amazing work from everyone involved".

"Putting together an ICU in such a short space of time involved teams working tirelessly to prepare, train, procure, support, manage and care."

"Hundreds of staff have been trained in ICU skills and our #1BigTeam should be incredibly proud!" it added.

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
As people stay home, areas that would be packed on a sunny day are nearly empty.
As people stay home, areas that would be packed on a sunny day have been nearly empty.

National park thanks people for staying away

Tarr Steps
Getty Images

Exmoor National Park Authority has thanked people for following government advice and largely staying away from the beauty spot over the weekend.

National Park rangers worked with police officers from Somerset and Devon to offer information and advice to a small number of walkers, just a week after huge crowds were seen at national parks, prompting concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone for foregoing their visits to the national park over the weekend and until restrictions lift," said access and recreation manager Dan Barnett.

He added: "The importance of these places for people’s health and well being cannot be underestimated and we fully appreciate the sacrifice many are making to protect fellow citizens."

Coronavirus: ICU nurse visits triplets from driveway
Graham is living apart from his wife and triplets who are at risk from coronavirus complications.

Police responding to reports of 'self-policing'

BBC Radio Devon

The police are receiving calls from people conducting "self-policing" and reporting others who are allegedly breaching the social distancing guidelines set out by the government.

Devon and Cornwall Police say over the weekend, the vast majority of people stuck to the call to stay at home - but there were some exceptions.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said officers would act if they heard about shops opening or people gathering in groups.

He said: "We do get the calls off people who are frustrated seeing gatherings.

"We will respond to that, not as a blue light response but we will deal with it."

He said the force would go to the reported spot if it is "appropriate", but "assess" it alongside what else the force is dealing with at that time.

Have you spotted Dora the Explorer?

Emma Thomasson

BBC Spotlight

Children have been looking out for cartoon characters strolling the streets of Plymouth.

A man is dressing up as cartoon characters for his daily walk - to put a smile on people's faces.

Coronavirus: 'Unacceptable risk' to operate air ambulance

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

An air ambulance service will temporarily only be responding to calls by car.

Heléna Holt, CEO of Devon Air Ambulance, said standing down the aircraft "has been a very difficult decision", but one they had to make to "protect all of our crew".

Devon air ambulance

Paramedics wear personal protective gear when treating and attending to patients, but the pilots cannot operate aircraft while doing so or maintain a 2m (6ft) social distance between themselves and the patient.

"As we have no way of knowing whether a patient has coronavirus, this leaves them completely exposed within a small confined space," explained the air ambulance CEO.

"We hope our community will understand that this is an unacceptable risk."

This is a temporary measure and the ambulance service will be working with the NHS to identify other ways to support the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We will do our best to maintain our service and keep being there for patients, albeit by road not air.”

Number of families fleeing domestic abuse rises

BBC Radio Devon

In recent weeks there has been a rise in the number of families fleeing domestic violence, a charity claims.

North Devon Against Domestic Violence, the only refuge in Devon said it has seen an increase of seven to eight families per day presenting to housing.

Upset woman
Science Photo Library

Currently, there are six families at the refuge and all are well.

Staff are not entering the refuge and mental health support is being provided over the phone or via video link.

A new campaign is being launched across Devon and Cornwall to help people suffering abuse, because they are having to stay at home due to coronavirus.

Lovely card delivered to South Western Ambulance staff

Well done Millie, Kyla and Pippa for sending this card - it's a real hoot!

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Action fund launched to help comnunity groups

BBC Radio Devon

A county council has launched an action fund to support groups helping out in local communities.

The Covid-19 fund has been launched by Devon County Council.

Grants of up to £500 will be available to allow voluntary groups to help the most vulnerable, with services such as delivering food and medicine.

The grants can also fund virtual support groups to help people access the internet and voluntary car schemes.

There have been 80 applications to the council so far.

Suspects arrested showing coronavirus symptoms

A top police officer has said some people with symptoms of the virus have been arrested in Cornwall.

Some suspects arrested recently for GBH, drink-driving and assaulting a police officer have shown symptoms of coronavirus, said Chief Superintendent, Ian Drummond-Smith.

"Don’t be fooled into thinking demand will subside during #coronalockdownuk."

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Domestic abuse fear in coronavirus clampdown

Devon and Cornwall Police and victim support agencies are warning that more people may experience domestic abuse, as we are encouraged to self-isolate at home.

Abuse generic
Getty Images

But they're keen to reassure communities that victims will still have access to support services.

Supt Sharon Donald, from Devon & Cornwall Police, said: “Sadly, as schools close and home working is encouraged, Covid-19 may cause a rise in domestic abuse."

Live Chat is a web-based support service that will be available to victims in Devon and Cornwall 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The service is anonymous, confidential and free to use. To access it visit Victim Support or Victim Care.

Victim Support will still offer telephone support on 0808 031 8178.

In addition to the web chat facility, other channels for victim support are still available.

Victim Care can be contacted on 01392 475900 from 08:00 to 20:00 on Monday to Friday and 09:00 to 17:00 at the weekend.

Three more people die of coronavirus in Devon

BBC Radio Devon

A further three people have died in Devon after testing positive for coronavirus.


Latest figures show two people died at Torbay Hospital on Saturday and one person died at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on Friday.

The total number of deaths in Devon now stands at 12 and seven in Cornwall.

Devon police patrol turns back Birmingham driver

Police patrolling in north Devon turned back this driver who was travelling from Birmingham.

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Restrictions on travel issued by the government mean only essential journeys are allowed.

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, trips which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or bike ride - alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only when you cannot work from home

Staying 'local' could save lives, says police chief

BBC Spotlight

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

A police chief has spoken out to try and urge people to stay "local" this weekend and save lives.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer told the BBC he could not have "1.7 million adults and children deciding this weekend to drive to beauty spots and beaches".

He is asking people not to drive anywhere this weekend unless it is necessary and to not drive somewhere for their session of exercise.

"Local means local - stay local at home and stay socially responsible. This is about saving human lives, it's that serious.

"If you're driving somewhere, that is not in the spirit of what is intended."

The chief constable said he was "concerned" about maintaining law and order during this time.

"The day that I issue a ticket or have to arrest people... is a very sad day. If it's needed I will do it, but I want that to be our last resort, not out first."

Extra safety measures for Devon blood donors

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Health worker

People in Devon are being urged to carry on donating blood as normal during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHS Blood and Transplant service said extra safety measures including triage on arrival and extra cleaning had been put in place.

A spokesman for the service said: "We’ve started triaging everyone who arrives so only people with no risk factors can enter the donation area.

“A lot of people have called us asking if sessions are still going ahead. We need them to know that our sessions and donor centres are still open and that travel to a blood donation session is essential for the NHS."

People must keep donating to make sure blood supplies for hospitals are kept up, he added.

There is a permanent blood donation centre in Plymouth at Derriford Hospital.

Appointments can be made by calling 0300 123 23 23 or going to

Police explain decision to stop beehive-moving driver

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Police have explained why they classed someone who was transporting a beehive as carrying out a non-essential journey.

The Devon and Cornwall Alliance Roads Policing team tweeted on Thursday evening that someone was stopped in Cullompton, Devon, while "taking a beehive to a field".

The motorist was sent home "with strong words of advice"

The move was criticised on social media, with one commentator saying bee-keeping tasks could be carried out by registered keepers "whilst complying with social distancing".

Questions were also raised if officers acted appropriately if the person was involved in food production.

On Friday morning, officers tweeted to clarify the situation, saying the hive was being transported "not in line with employment or essential work, instead this was a hobbie [sic]".

"Had this been the case, then the final decision would have been different," they said.

They added the individual was from a "Covid-19 vulnerable group, and was not adhering to social distancing".

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Officers redeployed to frontline policing

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Devon and Cornwall Police is redeploying staff to frontline policing as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The force said 125 officers had so far been redeployed from back office roles including 40 who would be handling phone calls and sergeants being given custody training.

Police cars

Devon and Cornwall Police said more incidents would be handled over the phone to reduce the risk to staff and the public of spreading the virus.

The public were asked to be patient as the force may take more time to follow up reports relating to lower-level crimes but the force said there were "no types of crime which we will not respond to or log and we will not stop arresting people".

Since the stay at home measures were introduced the force said it had seen a significant reduction in reports of some crimes, such as those related to the evening and night-time economy and motoring, while domestic abuse had increased.

A spokesman said: “Requests for police attendance and the investigations of crimes will be ranked on a basis of the threat, risk and harm and will be responded to proportionately.

“When policing is under strain, from either demand or capacity issues, some services will have to be reduced – such as historic investigations that have a low risk attached to them.

"We will always focus on core policing and serious and violent crime.”

Members of the public are asked to think twice before they contact the force so officers are able to respond to the most pressing matters.

Devon highways teams to carry out essential repairs only

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Planned maintenance on Devon’s roads has been suspended but highways teams will continue to carry out essential repairs.

Devon County Council has temporarily suspended planned maintenance work in order to focus on the repair of critical infrastructure to maintain the local network for key workers.


Highway maintenance workers have been classified by the government as key to delivering essential service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillor Stuart Hughes said staff were being advised to observe social distancing precautions and called on people not approach maintenance crews.

He said: "They should be applauded for their vital work in keeping our roads safe for everyone during these uncertain times."

Clap for Carers a 'goosebumps moment'

The Clap for Carers event celebrating NHS workers on Thursday night was a "goosebumps moment" for staff at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, according to a senior administrator.

Leanne Ashmead, A&E manager at the hospital, said the initiative was "emotional" for members of her team who were able to step outside and listen.

"It's proof that people are thinking of them in what is a really challenging time," she said.

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On a personal level, Ms Ashmead said it was "difficult to describe" her feelings in words.

"I made a big point of opening the front door just before eight o’clock to hear the moment at which the streets burst into applause and cheering.

"It epitomised the reason why I work for the NHS, I just want to serve the public and our wonderful institution.

"To see really how much that means to people is wonderful."

Ms Ashmead added she would be reminding herself and her team of the "incredibly special" event at "pressure moments" during the crisis.

"It's like nothing we've ever experienced before."

Coronavirus: Summer weather may change spread of virus

David Braine

Weather Forecaster

We have had several emails asking if the weather or climate can affect the spread or severity of coronavirus and whilst information on this new disease is very sparse we can look at how the weather has affected similar viruses in the past and try to make some observations.

Coronavirus graphic

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease that moves from human to human in a similar way to other viruses such as seasonal flu or coughs and colds, it is spread in mucous or water droplets from coughs, sneezes, and breathing from one person to another, and there are a variety of theories as to how long it can survive on a surface outside of the human body.

Seasonal flu or influenza has affected the human population for thousands of years, typically being more virulent in the world’s temperate regions, and more specifically in the winter months of both the northern and southern hemispheres.

There is evidence that seasonal flu has a harder time spreading in hot dry countries, where the viruses living outside of the body struggle with high temperature and arid environments.

There are some studies from scientists from universities in China, who have examined how the coronavirus has been transmitted in several Chinese cities, and have concluded that “high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of Covid-19”.

The research also suggests that, as with many viruses, it may transmit more effectively between humans when humidity is low and the temperature is between 5C (41F) and 11C (52F).

At the moment the areas most affected by coronavirus lie between 30-50 degrees north of the equator and, as with seasonal flu, spring and summer could reduce the infection rate with higher temperatures and more UV light, which is known to have an effect on similar viruses.

No one has the answers as to what weather type can help or reduce the spread of Covid-19 but there are similarities to how seasonal flu behaves and there seem to be three critical factors:

  • Viruses live well within the body at approximately 37C (99F) - normal body temperature. During a fever the virus can be killed which is the body’s response to the infection, normal flu viruses survive and transmit better outside the human body at a much lower temperature and level of humidity.
  • Those who live in temperate regions tend to spend a lot of the winter time indoors and in close proximity to each other thus aiding the spread of viruses
  • Vitamin D may play a part in the human immune system to fight viruses, in winter time when the sun is low in temperate regions and people spend more time indoors they typically get less sunshine and therefore make less vitamin D, and that might reduce the immune system.

There are no clear answers as to whether Covid-19 conforms to other types of virus that we know more about, and how much impact the weather will have on it, but sunshine does bring benefits to the immune system in the production of vitamin D, and a higher temperature may help control the survivability of the virus on surfaces.

So heading into spring and summer the sunshine may have an impact on the virus and how we cope with it.

Domestic abuse campaign launched


A new campaign has been launched to tackle domestic abuse as cases are expected to increase due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and reassure victims that they will still have access to support services during the pandemic.

Police and victim support services have warned that domestic abuse may increase due to restrictions to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

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Police target beauty spots in push for exercising locally

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Police will be visiting "beauty spots" across the south west to inform people they must exercise in their local area, senior police officers have said.

Ch Supt Ian Drummond-Smith said officers would be patrolling beaches to "ensure everyone is following the new rules", following reports of "large gatherings" on Thursday.

The move follows the emergency legislation passed by parliament, but the legal status of driving to exercise remains unclear.

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Supt Adrian Leisk tweeted that officers would be visiting beaches and car parks today to "reinforce" the message that people should not drive for their exercise.

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Third coronavirus death at Derriford Hospital

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Derriford Hospital

Another person died at Derriford Hospital after testing positive for coronavirus on Thursday, the NHS has confirmed.

This is the third patient to die at the hospital after contracting Covid-19.

So far, 578 people across the UK have died, 16 of whom are in the south west.

Business as usual at Devon dairy

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

A dairy in East Devon is working around the clock to maintain supplies to supermarkets during the Covid-19 pandemic while following government advice to keep its staff safe.

The Clinton Devon Farms Partnership manages two organic dairy farms, where a herd of 750 cows graze.

KOR Communications

Clinton Dairy supplies milk to the firm Muller, producing 5.4 million litres of milk each year.

It also runs a milk vending machine, which holds 100 litres of milk, at the nearby Otterton Mill visitor centre and has seen sales double since the crisis began.

Farms Manager Sam Briant-Evans, said it was pretty much business as usual at the dairy.

"Even at an immensely difficult time like this, the animals still need to be fed and milked, so the work doesn’t stop and we will continue to meet demand," he said.

“We are taking all the correct precautions and following daily government advice to ensure our teams are safe and protected at all times."

Police appeal for past employees to get in touch

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Devon and Cornwall Police is appealing for anyone who has previously worked for them to get in touch by 17:00 on Thursday.

People willing to offer their skills to help the fight against coronavirus are asked to email

Dorset Police is co-ordinating the response for both forces.

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Clap for our Carers at 20:00

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Medical staff holding signs
Samantha Rowe

People in the south west are being asked to take part in a collective round of applause to show their appreciation for all those working to fight the spread of coronavirus.

The picture above shows Derriford Hospital staff on Brent Ward holding up the message 'We stay here for you, please stay home for us'.

The Clap for our Carers campaign has organised for people across the UK to go outside and applaud health and social care workers together on Thursday at 20:00.

Please send us any video or pictures of yourselves or your friends and family via facebook or email at

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Two coronavirus deaths in Exeter

Miles Davis

BBC News Online

Royal Devon and Exeter

Two people with coronavirus have died at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

A Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “Sadly, we can confirm that two patients who were being cared for at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and died at the hospital on the weekend had tested positive for Covid-19.

"Their families have been informed about the cause of death and are following national guidance. Our thoughts and condolences are with them at this difficult and distressing time."

Coastguard warning over reports of people on beaches

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

The coastguard has urged people to stay at home after getting reports of groups of people on beaches around the UK during the coronavirus lockdown.


Pete Mizen, assistant director for HM Coastguard, said: “The rules are very simple and can be found on the government website.

"Stay at home. The risk of spreading coronavirus is huge and while you might be okay, the person you give it to may not.

"And if you get into trouble and have to call 999 and ask for the coastguard, you’re then putting frontline emergency responders at risk of Covid-19 too."

Mr Mizen said beaches were not lifeguarded meaning there was extra risk to beachgoers and to emergency responders.

Coronavirus: NHS asks vets to donate animal ventilators

BBC News England

Getty Images

Vets have been asked by the NHS to provide animal ventilators to help tackle an anticipated shortage of the machines for coronavirus patients.

There are an estimated 300-400 animal ventilators currently in use in the UK.

Those designed for animals larger than a dog but smaller than a horse would be suitable for treating people, experts said.

The government said it was "asking the veterinary community to help the country and the NHS".

Coronavirus: Council staff redeployed to support carers

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Staff from "non-critical" services at Devon County Council are being redeployed to help social care and social work teams.

Devon County Council

Care Direct, which is the route for adults into Devon County Council’s social work services, has seen telephone calls rise sharply over the last few weeks.

The council said people who receive regular visits from care workers are being told their care providers are working hard to continue scheduled visits.

But some visits may have to be prioritised over others, and the duration of some visits might need to be a little shorter if the care worker has more clients to see.

A spokesman said: “The council is working closely with care providers of residential and home care, to ensure that services are able to continue with as little disruption as possible.

"It’s also working with Devon Carers to make sure that unpaid carers, many of whom are aged 70 and over, are receiving the support they need."