Yolo Public Health Director Discusses COVID-19 Threat

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Dr. Ron Chapman

Yolo County Public Health Officer Ron Chapman has been running the show in terms of the Yolo County response to the COVID-19 threat.  Last week, he issued a countywide health order for residents to shelter in place from March 19 to April 7, unless extended by the Public Health Officer.

The order limits activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs and is intended to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), protect those most vulnerable to the disease, and preserve local healthcare capacity.

“These are extremely difficult times. The COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world and in our local communities,” said Yolo County Public Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman. “We need to do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable people from the harmful impacts of the virus.”

Dr. Chapman agreed to take the Vanguard’s questions this week.

Vanguard:  Is Yolo County doing all we can at this point?

Dr. Chapman: The County is working closely with our partners at the cities, hospitals, schools and non-profit organizations to protect those who are ill, prevent the spread of further illness, and provide supports to all affected by this unprecedented event.  The County is doing all we can and we need the people of Yolo County to rise to the occasion and practice strict social distancing and stay at home to protect themselves, their families, and friends.

Vanguard:  What are your greatest concerns locally?

Dr. Chapman:  We are very concerned about the economic impacts on everybody. There are many people making huge sacrifices to reduce person to person viral spread.  We are very concerned that people will not practice strict social distancing and will not stay at home.  If the virus continues to rapidly spread in Yolo County we will soon see our healthcare system overwhelmed with sick people.  An overwhelmed health care system will not be able to care for anyone, including people who need medical care for heart problems, cancer, car accidents or other medical problems.

Vanguard:  What can the average resident do?

Dr. Chapman: The average resident can practice social distancing and follow the order to stay at home. By following these measures residents will help to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect those most likely to experience severe symptoms from the disease, and preserve local healthcare capacity.  People can look out for those most in need and support the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Vanguard:  Can we avoid worst case scenarios?

Dr. Chapman: Yes, by practicing social distancing and staying at home and following the order to stay at home, we can reduce the spread of illness in our community.

Vanguard:  How long are we looking at?

Dr. Chapman: The length of time depends on how seriously we all take the social distancing and stay at home measures.  There is no clear timeline at this point.

Vanguard:  We know there is a confirmed death in Yolo. Isn’t it a flaw in the self-quarantine orders that we are not given information about who the person is, so that if we came in contact with that person we should self quarantine as opposed to self isolate?

Dr. Chapman: We are not permitted to provide specifics regarding cases (including the gender and location of an individual) as this is considered personal health information protected under HIPAA. The County Health and Human Services Agency is immediately aware of all positive cases, isolates the person, and performs a contact investigation to identify all people who have been exposed and are at risk.  All people who have been exposed to a case and are considered at risk are contacted by the County and advised regarding activities and self-monitoring of symptoms. The confirmed cases which are made public are only the tip of the iceberg.  Most cases are not identified as most are mild cases and it is clear that COVID-19 is being actively transmitted through community spread, which is not subject to geographic boundaries. This requires all communities and residents to take an active part in prevention by following social distancing and stay at home measures to limit the spread.

Vanguard:  Is there an epicenter in Yolo County people should be aware of?

Dr. Chapman: There is no epicenter of COVID-19 in Yolo County.

Vanguard:  What is being done to protect healthcare providers and first responders in Yolo County?

Dr. Chapman: Health care workers are using personal protective equipment such as masks, goggles, gloves, and gowns to care for people who are infected with Covid-19.  Unfortunately, there is a shortage of masks and we need the public to not wear masks as there is no benefit to public use, and we need to reserve the valuable masks for our critical front line health care workers and first responders.  Health care workers who are symptomatic after an exposure to a Covid-19 patient are prioritized for lab testing.


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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3 thoughts on “Yolo Public Health Director Discusses COVID-19 Threat”

  1. Alan Miller

    I am super impressed by this guy, and good line of questioning, DG.

    I especially liked the question “isn’t it a flaw in the self-quarantine orders that we are not given information about who the person is, so that if we came in contact with that person we should self quarantine as opposed to self isolate?”.

    And was impressed but concerned over the response, “The County Health and Human Services Agency is immediately aware of all positive cases, isolates the person, and performs a contact investigation to identify all people who have been exposed and are at risk.” . . .

    . . . because, just as he pointed out that the health care system could become overwhelmed, so too could the County Health and Human Services Agency in their ability to perform contact investigations.  It could very quickly spiral out-of-control.

  2. Alan Miller

    PLEASE — LOOK AT THIS!

    https://tinyurl.com/Covid-19-Transmission-Graphic

    I wanted to share this gif-style graphic with everyone, and encourage everyone to share it.  I was aware intellectually of the statistics of one contact ‘going exponential’, but this graphic literally changed my behavior, and I am now practicing something resembling ‘extreme social distancing’.  When I saw this I made the following decisions:

    • stop (or greatly reduce) getting takeout (much as it breaks my heart as I want to support local restaurants);

    • reduce errands to essential;

    • keep distance with most friends, especially older ones;

    • treat every public surface as if it literally has human feces on it, and act accordingly;

    • use up things in my pantry before going out to the grocery store;

    • bunch grocery store trips into many fewer and only when needed – not add that tomato and use an olive instead if it means one less trip;

    • receive a weekly CSA Farm Box of vegetables from a small, local organic farm with few workers, to avoid lots of people handling the food and reduce even further the need for trips to the grocery store;

    • teleworking (forced actually);

    Paranoid?  Maybe . . . We Should Be!!!  I can afford to be paranoid for a few weeks or months.  I also was moved by the plight of older friends with health issues who have reason to be highly concerned, and for their well-being.

    I did not start out this way, my acceptance and awareness of the threat has evolved, day by day over the last two weeks.  I am blossoming my inner hermit.  A week ago I was borderline rebellious, eating out to help local eateries in peril, going in to work, taking public transit, hanging out.  I like being out in the world, human contact, person-to-person hanging out.

    I still do it sitting on the porch and in the backyard with ‘social spaciousness’ . . . I truly pity those that live in apartments during this time.  That must suck.   And being in an institution, from prison to mental health to hospital to nursing home to assisted living . . . must be near terrifying.

    I have also become SUPER careful riding my bike and doing pretty much everything . . . the last thing I want to do is end up in a hospital, both for the risk to me for exposure, and to add to the overwhelming of the health-care system.

    And, praise God, may I never have to shake another hand in my life, and may that vile social tradition die a timely death!

    1. Bill Marshall

      nursing home to assisted living . . . must be near terrifying.

      True story… and most, if not all, do no even allow family visits at this point… spouse and others have set up a phone operation (via a local faith-based group) to at least call, and chat, “be with” those who are “on lock-down”, essentially, ‘solitary confinement’… I believe other faith-based and community-based organizations are doing so, as well… I’d encourage those who can empathize, to connect with the various faith communities, other community groups, to assist with that effort… not minimizing the other groups, but am not familiar of efforts for other ‘institutions’…

      Thank you, Alan, for pointing this out.

      This is a time to define what “community” IS, and whether it is worth ‘protecting’.  “these are the times that try men’s (and women’s) souls (essence, elan, whatever)…”… Thomas Paine wrote those words nearly 250 years ago… still true…

      Besides protecting ourselves, there are those we can support… choose to do, or ‘fess up that you choose not to do.  Pretty much a yes, or no… not much ‘middle’ as to doing what you can.

       

       

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