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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 24, 2024

City of Davis makes open-air tents in downtown Davis safer

Even as vaccination distribution increases, Yolo County officials stress the importance of adhering to safety guidelines

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and limit large gatherings, the City of Davis released mandatory changes to the open-air tents in downtown Davis, according to a news release published on Feb. 24 from the city. 

These changes include removing the large tents on E and G Streets, providing restaurants on G Street with smaller tents to replace the one large tent and confining open alcohol containers to restaurant spaces on G Street, rather than the entire street itself. 

The news release explained that a large gathering in one of the tents prompted these changes. 

“The City is aware of a large gathering that took place this past weekend at one of the downtown tent sites contrary to COVID-19 safety protocols,” the news release reads. “City staff met this week with the Davis Downtown Business Association leaders to address changes.”

Dr. Dean Blumberg, an associate professor at UC Davis and the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Health, explained via email how measures such as outdoor tents—if unsealed and not airtight—can help curb the spread of COVID-19.

“More than 90% of transmission takes place indoors, so it’s much safer to get together outdoors where the air volume is much larger and the virus is diluted thus decreasing transmission,” Blumberg said via email. “This is especially important when eating or drinking, since these are unmasked activities that will increase risk of transmission.  A tent outdoors is likely a safer environment than indoors as long as there is good ventilation.  If the tent is sealed practically airtight, then it is likely similar to indoors and will not decrease transmission.”

It is still important to continue following health and safety guidelines as vaccinations ramp up, even for those who are fully vaccinated, Blumberg explained via email.

On-call Yolo County Public Information Officer Frank Schneegas said that as of March 22, about 18,159 first doses and 15,423 second doses have been administered in Yolo County. 

Yolo County District 3 Supervisor Gary Sandy explained that “a healthy percentage of the people 65 and over” have been vaccinated in Yolo County, and that county employees have done outreach to groups such as farmworkers and those who “suffer disproportionately from COVID.” Moving forward, Yolo County will focus on targeting specific ZIP codes and neighborhoods that may not have sufficient vaccine supply in order to vaccinate more people. 

However, Sandy described that low supply has made it difficult to vaccinate everybody.

“[We] continue to face an inadequate number of vaccine doses that we receive from the state of California, and so that’s one of the reasons why we continue to underserve our populations,” Sandy said. “We just don’t have sufficient vaccinations to meet the needs. We place an order every week, and we rarely get our full order.”

Schneegas added that although Yolo County moved into the orange tier on March 24, meaning that businesses can operate at a greater capacity indoors, it is still important to continue adhering to health and safety guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

“There are restrictions on how those tents can be set up, so they can’t be like a closed tent, for example,” Schneegas said. “We are still encouraging people to continue wearing face masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings when possible even though people continue to be vaccinated. Again, most people in Yolo County haven’t had the opportunity to be vaccinated yet, which means that a lot of people still don’t have any protection from a vaccine yet.”

Sandy stated that another surge is possible, especially among younger age groups.

“We can’t let up now,” Sandy said. “There’s already evidence in other parts of the country that another surge may be coming, and the numbers appear to be among younger people.”

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org


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