City and county officials are hopeful that the virus will continue to subside but testing data still illustrate rising cases
By: LEVI GOLDSTEIN — email@example.com
Healthy Davis Together (HDT), a program that has been instrumental to pandemic response in Davis and Yolo County, is set to conclude on June 30, according to a city press release.
HDT launched in September 2020 and expanded to Healthy Yolo Together in July 2021 and to Healthy Central Valley Together early this year. According to City of Davis Director of Community Engagement Jenny Tan, Yolo County and the City of Davis, in collaboration with UC Davis, have set up COVID-19 clinical testing sites and organized wastewater monitoring efforts in the greater Sacramento area and in the Central Valley.
“Knowing what the numbers are, knowing which areas people are getting sick […] definitely helped the city, the county, the campus to work more efficiently in terms of providing services,” Tan said. “It’s an award winning program. It is acclaimed because of the level of partnership, because we were able to respond so quickly.”
HDT was originally planned to end in 2021, but the Davis city council voted unanimously to extend it for an additional six months. Now, the program is closing with no plans to extend it further. The Research Park testing location shut down on April 28, and it is expected that more will follow suit one at a time.
“Healthy Davis Together had a really great life, and we’re excited and happy that it was able to help as many people as it did, but it’s just winding down at this point,” Tan said.
Testing is still available to Yolo County residents through at-home rapid tests and at local pharmacies. Tan is confident that people will continue to seek testing outside of HDT. Yolo County Public Information Officer John Fout said that other protective measures, such as vaccinations and new oral antiviral treatments, will keep the community safe.
While HDT is closing down, testing data shows that COVID-19 cases are once again rising in Yolo County. According to Fout, this is because of the new omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1, which is about 30% more contagious than the original omicron strain. Thus, it seems that the pandemic isn’t coming to a close as many may believe or hope.
Sentiments are spreading that things will be “back to normal” soon with schools returning to a fully in-person schedule and mask mandates lifting across the U.S. HDT shutting down is seemingly another step in this process. However, some are still wary that another surge may be incoming.
According to Fout, Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson still advises that people take precautions by wearing masks indoors, continue to test regularly and get booster shots as soon as they’re eligible.
Tan concurs that safety measures are still necessary as the pandemic continues.
“The pandemic is still here to a certain degree,” Tan said. “COVID is still here, people are still catching it. […] Hopefully things will get better, and things continue to get better, but there’s still a bit that’s unknown.”
HDT concluding in June could be jumping the gun, but this remains to be seen. For now, though, officials are projecting a message of hope.
“People, humans, communities, we’re resilient,” Tan said. “I think that’s something important that we need to remember as we go through this.”
Written by: Levi Goldstein — firstname.lastname@example.org