City Council meeting held via Zoom with restrictions on public comments due to prank calls
The Davis City Council discussed the COVID-19 crisis and the City of Davis’ response during an online City Council meeting on April 7. Councilmembers approved the contribution of $50,000 to the Yolo COVID-19 Relief Fund in an effort to aid local nonprofits.
The meeting began with a presentation from Yolo County’s Health Officer, Dr. Ron Chapman, who responded to questions about COVID-19 and recommended steps for community members to take in order to protect themselves. He emphasized that the stay-at-home order is the best way to limit the direct impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on residents of Yolo County.
“The stay-at-home order and social distancing are the key measures to slowing and eventually stopping the spread of this virus, given that there is no treatment, and there is no vaccine,” Chapman said.
Chapman also said medical services in Yolo County are preparing for an increase in capacity, as confirmed cases of COVID-19 increase.
“Both of the hospitals have dedicated space in their facilities for what we call a ‘surge’ — a huge number of sick people with COVID-19 needing to be hospitalized,” Chapman said. “We’ve identified beds in the hospitals and beds in some of our nursing homes for folks recovering from COVID-19 post hospitalization.”
Yolo County has prepared various resources to clearly communicate coronavirus information to the public, including a coronavirus dashboard listing the county’s virus statistics. Chapman warned of reading too much into each city’s numbers, however, as they are not an accurate reflection of any individual’s risk of catching the virus.
“Just because one city has more cases than another that does not mean that that particular city is necessarily sicker,” Chapman said. “The reality is that this virus is everywhere, and testing is a challenge, so we’ve only really tested the tip of the iceberg.”
Presentations from City Manager Mike Webb and Police Chief Darren Pytel focused more on the practical changes occurring within agencies in the City of Davis, including how city officials are adapting their roles and planning for future summer events.
Several public commenters noted that one of the most glaring structural differences in city proceedings is the online nature of the City Council meetings themselves. Some said councilmembers were not doing enough to address the crisis and continuing with “business as usual” in a setting limited in public contribution.
Davis residents were asked to share their public comments by email and voicemail before the meeting, held via Zoom. Comments sent in during the meeting were not guaranteed to be shared. Community members were banned from participating during the Zoom meeting due to inappropriate messages and prank callers during the last City Council meeting.
Mayor Brett Lee addressed these concerns, saying the City Council was only proceeding with necessary items.
“We are definitely not treating things as business as usual — as you saw from the staff report on this,” Lee said. “There are many things that we are not taking up as a council. Obviously, our priorities are around things that are urgent in nature, [and] the COVID crisis obviously is urgent in nature. But I do believe we have the bandwidth to continue on with things that are high in importance.”
Among items approved during the virtual meeting was a $50,000 contribution by the City of Davis to the Yolo COVID-19 Relief Fund, which is, “primarily intended to maximize and coordinate large donations from institutional donors,” to nonprofits, according to the Yolo Community Foundation website. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors donated $250,000 to the relief fund on March 24, encouraging other institutions to donate as well.
The proceeds will go directly toward helping non-profits like Davis Community Meals and Housing, Empower Yolo, Inc. and Meals on Wheels Yolo County provide essential services to the community. The relief fund website encourages individuals to donate directly to the nonprofits, as the relief fund is set up for managing larger institutional donations.
Written by: Madeleine Payne — firstname.lastname@example.org