Project also expanding testing to Woodland, Winters and West Sacramento first responders
On Jan. 27, the City of Davis put out a press release announcing that Healthy Davis Together will be extending testing services to four Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) campuses, as well as to firefighters and police in other Yolo County cities, such as Winters, Woodland and West Sacramento.
UC Davis Health Director of Business Development Tod Stoltz explained that the project is also starting a pilot for COVID-19 testing at more DJUSD campuses.
“As we bring students back to campus in the school district, we want to be able to have testing operations at every campus, testing as frequently as is appropriate, either once a week or twice a week,” Stoltz said. “Students can get tested right there on campus, as well as the teachers and staff. With this pilot—it’s now expanded to six campuses—our goal is just to be able to effectively collect saliva samples from teachers and students that are going to those campuses and then get them to our testing center at the UC Davis Genome Center.”
Although the press release stated that four campuses will be included in the program, Stoltz said there will be six. The DJUSD website lists four new testing locations opening in March on top of their ten campuses that already offer COVID-19 testing.
Stoltz also elaborated on the plans to test at other locations outside of Davis.
“All we’re doing in Yolo County outside of Davis is testing at skilled nursing and long-term care facilities,” Stoltz said. “We did that at the request of Dr. Sisson, who’s the Yolo County public health officer. We don’t yet have firm plans to expand into more testing at Yolo County, but we are thinking about it. If we can get everything done in Davis that we want to accomplish, then we will try to see if we have the budget to expand to other sites within Yolo County. Maybe that would be schools in Yolo County, maybe that would be other senior housing.”
City of Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard explained that there are few options for testing in Woodland.
“The existing testing options in Woodland are mostly done through medical agencies and pharmaceutical agencies,” Stallard said. “For example, Woodland Memorial Hospital is providing testing, and also Walgreens and Rite-Aids [are providing testing]. The testing is pretty limited at this time. However, it’s my understanding that Healthy Davis Together is looking to become Healthy Yolo Together. That was a very generous thing, to expand the readily available spit tests to other parts of the county.”
Efforts are being made to locate a suitable mass-testing site in Woodland, according to Stallard.
“I recommended that we look at the high school gymnasiums, because we would need a large, open space that has great air circulation. Of course, the gyms are not in use at the moment. Schools may go back into session, but that doesn’t mean we’ll have activity in the gyms at the beginning,” Stallard said. “Both Woodland High School and Douglas Middle School are campuses with two gyms each, so one could be used for COVID-19 testing—I’ve actually been in conversations with our school superintendent about this as a possibility.”
In addition to offering saliva testing, Healthy Davis Together is also monitoring the sewage system in Davis for COVID-19 genetic material, Stoltz explained.
“The sewage monitoring system is really monitoring the whole population of Davis,” Stoltz said. “We’re doing that in two ways: we’re monitoring at the wastewater treatment plant, so that’s looking at the level of infection across the entire city, and then we’re doing more refined monitoring at certain locations within the city. There’s a lot of other cities that are doing monitoring at the wastewater treatment plant level. What is unique is that we are really aggressively monitoring within the sub-sewer zones within the city.”
Stallard, as a member of the 65+ community, recently received the vaccine, and he urged those who are eligible for the vaccine to get it as well.
“The response to COVID-19 is an all-hands effort,” Stallard said. “Every one of us has to do everything we can. Get yourself tested if you have access, get yourself vaccinated if you have the opportunity, encourage others to do the same, and let’s all work together to get life back to as normal as possible.”
Written by: Rachel Shey — firstname.lastname@example.org