By Madison Forwood
DAVIS — On Tuesday Nov. 10, the Davis City Council received a comprehensive review and update of the effectiveness of Healthy Davis Together. The presenters for the update were City Manager Mike Webb, Chief Operator of Healthy Davis Together Ken Burtess and Kelly Ratlift from UC Davis.
Healthy Davis Together is a joint partnership between UC Davis and the City of Davis in an effort to track, reduce and combat the spread of COVID-19 within the community. The goal of the partnership is to gradually and safely return to everyday activities while protecting each individual.
Webb stated, “We came to council about two months ago with an overview of both the Campus Ready plans and planning efforts as well as Healthy Davis Together and at the time Healthy Davis Together was still in its infancy. Since then there’s been very significant progress on every key component of the program.”
For COVID-19 testing updates, Burtess said, “Up until now, we have been constrained by the testing capacity of the campus. We are now using the saliva test and can report those results back to the clients tested. This unleashed to increase the capacity of testing. We are preparing to add additional groups, a couple of days from now we will be adding a large group of faculty and additional students in order to begin testing those with a higher risk of COVID through their interfaces with the students. Within about ten days from now we will begin to initiate significant testing in the community, at this point we are staffed to do that and setting up location. One of those locations is going to be the Mondavi Center.”
The presentation transitioned to a discussion about how Healthy Davis Together will provide quarantine and isolation services to people in need. Webb described this program, stating that it is “to support the vast increase in community members receiving testing.”
He said, “it is imperative for those that need to isolate do so with confidence and ease. Healthy Davis Together will provide quarantine and isolation services free of charge to people in need. This will include lodging, meals, wrap around services that we are currently working on with Communicare — it’s one of our partners in this effort. We do expect to have more details released soon.”
Ken Burtess provided a quick update on PPE distribution. “So far Healthy Davis Together has transferred 30,000 masks to the City of Davis for distribution,” he said. “We continue to look for effective ways to get those into the hands of people that need them.”
Burtess also discussed the adoption of a Google and Apple app to assist in contact tracing efforts on the UC Davis campus. He mentioned that he is aware that many are concerned about privacy issues.
“There are three points in which individuals can opt out of participating. The app does nothing without permission,” Buttress described. “The first step is actually downloading the app, you have a choice whether to put it on your phone. Having downloaded the app if you have received a positive COVID diagnosis you have the choice of whether or not to notify the app you have received the diagnosis. Even at that point you have to make an affirmative choice to share your COVID diagnosis with the app server. All other phones that have been in proximity to your phone for a set period of time at a set distance the Bluetooth is always on and the phones are sharing non-identifiable codes.”
Burtess further reminded those listening, “If you do that all those other phones will be recognized and they will all get a message which will tell them nothing more that they have been in juxtaposition to someone that has a positive diagnosis. It will give them instructions in terms of what to do next.”
“Behavior is a critical component of campus strategy,” Kelly Ratlift explained. “The crux of this is that we financed a grants program with financial support from Healthy Davis Together and staff support from folks in our Student Affairs Office.”
The grant program gave funding to students to encourage them to partake in safe social activities. Ratlift went into detail about the grant process, stating, “We received over 560 grant applications. We awarded $61,000 and it should have reached 3,000 students. 73 percent of the funds were for living pod activities, and 27 percent were for virtual activities. 98 percent of students who received a grant reported that they didn’t attend an in-person gathering for Halloween. But of course [it’s] always not perfect, we did receive about 10 student conduct reports.”
However Ratlift reminded the audience, “Even one party can become a challenging environment, and each case was investigated, and there was follow up by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs.”
Mayor Gloria Partrida expressed pride in the project, stating, “I am glad to see there is so much progress in a small amount of time. The lack of numbers speaks to the success that you are having so far, I am hoping that that continues. You mentioned Halloween, when would you expect to see a result from that event?”
Burtess responded, “Two to four weeks, again that will be manifested in higher case positivity rates, but that is typically going to be four to five weeks.”
Councilmember Dan Carson stated, “I am particularly excited about the Healthy Davis Together Partners Program, I think you are tapping into downtown and Chamber really well to help in these efforts because not only are they good at communication but they are a trusted source of communication to our local businesses…We are all impressed with the wide variety of things you are undertaking here. I think it’s going to make us a safer community, no question.”
However, Carson also raised a concern, stating, “You are doing so well on the numbers, but I think when I counted it was five or six clicks through websites to try and get to your dashboard and your numbers. The contrast I would give you is the Yolo County Coronavirus website. It’s one click and you are there with all of the numbers. If you could make your numbers easier to navigate, I think it would be helpful to all of you.”
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