Commentary: Is It Time for Yolo to Re-Open?

The stats are sobering.  The Chamber survey showed a huge number of businesses in Davis experiencing a reduction in income.  And perhaps most alarming—one in seven reported that they have completely shut down.

But there is good news, and that is that after a surge of cases in mid-April, the number of new cases in the county has dropped.  Dropped by a lot.

On April 18, there were 11 cases reported.  Since then, there have only been 36 new cases in nearly a month.  Since April 26, that number is 14.

The numbers are even less in Davis—21 total cases since the pandemic started and only two resulting in hospitalization.

Of the 22 deaths reported in Yolo County, 15 are traceable to one nursing home, Stollwood Convalescent Hospital.

On Tuesday morning at the Yolo County Supervisor meeting there was talk about re-opening.  Yolo County has met all but one of the criteria set by the state for re-opening.  That one is that the state requires there to be no deaths in the last 14 days to move to Stage 2 for re-opening, which would allow for dine-in restaurants and shopping malls.

The county staff, based on the fact that all the deaths were located at the one facility, believed a case could be made to the state—as other counties have done—that there were no deaths outside of the nursing facility and therefore the county as a whole has met the criteria.

Unfortunately, later on Tuesday there were two new deaths reported in the county—neither associated with the nursing facility.

Given the low number of overall infections and the drop in the number of cases over the last four weeks, it would seem that Yolo County should start the process of re-opening.

Under the state rules, the county must complete a risk assessment.  It must develop a protection plan that includes training employees on how to limit the spread of the virus, and providing screening of employees, disinfectant protocols and physical distancing guidelines.

The state said Tuesday that seven counties—mostly rural—have been certified to have met the state’s conditions for additional businesses to reopen: Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Lassen, Nevada, Placer and Shasta counties.

But there are also talks underway with 23 other counties on whether  they can expand the reopening.

The governor, however, said that conditions are still too serious in Los Angeles and San Francisco to modify the guidelines for resuming business.

Experts are concerned that states reopening too quickly could trigger a new outbreak that may spiral out of control.

“If you think we have it completely under control, we don’t,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a press gathering on Tuesday.

“The consequences could be really serious.

“My concern is that if states or cities or regions, in their attempt, understandable, to get back to some form of normality, disregard to a greater or lesser degree the checkpoints that we put in our guidelines … there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control.”

A phased reopening of California began last Friday when clothing stores, sporting goods retailers, bookstores, music stores, toy stores and florists were allowed to provide customers with curbside service.

But the economy is reeling.  Businesses are failing.

The key question that we must ask is can we open businesses with social distancing guidelines and masks to make us safe?

Early photos of restaurants and clothing outlets, however, are not reassuring.  There are mixed results in terms of both masks and social distancing.

It is true that counties like Yolo County have seen a dramatic slowdown in new cases, but Yolo County is also not an island.  It is right along I-80 and a huge number of people commute to the Bay Area and Sacramento to work, and a huge number of people commute to Davis to work and go to school.

Still, at this point, it seems reasonable to do a limited re-opening.  Allow businesses to open.  Allow people to come into places of business in small numbers with social distancing and masks.

The two deaths yesterday will likely set Yolo County back, but the county apparently has the ability to move forward so long as the chief health official and county supervisors go along with the plan.

On Tuesday, though, they made it clear they would move slowly and thoughtfully before making major changes and would bring those changes back to the board for additional discussion.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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  1. Alan Miller

    To reopen?  No.

    To gain some sanity?  Yes.

    Are people acting sane?  No.

    I am practically locked down.  Some workers wanted access to my yard.  Guy walk right up to me.  Srsly?   Friend comes by to say hi in backyard, keeps forgetting and coming to pre-Covid distance.  Srsly?  Go to friends house to talk on porch, they invite me in.  “Oops, forgot”.  Srsly?  Went over to buy bread, finally have masks.  Then handed me a dirty pen to sign visa.  Srsly?  Watched two groups of people passing on the street with no distancing.  Srsly?  See construction workers working quite close together all day.  Srsly?  Watch meth addicts, alcoholics and vagrants (some of you call homeless) coming and going interacting with each other nearby day and night, no distancing no masks.  Srsly?  Here of students coming and going to LA, Bay Area, gathering.  Srsly?  Took a county order to get most grocery stores to do what we should have done two months ago — mandatory masks.  Srsly?  Amtrak just two days ago started requiring masks for crew and passengers — two months after CDC recommendations.  Srsly?

    The problem is . . . too many people aren’t taking this seriously now, are they going to take it srsly when things begin to ‘open’?  What happens when students go home to Bay Area and LA, play in hot, sweaty petri dishes all summer, and some return in the fall to Davis?  Just enough to bring the Covid, but not enough to keep many Davis businesses open. What if, with so few infections, we hit the statistical inflection point like Mexico did in early April, when they had 20 deaths, and today they have 4000, just six weeks later (not that it would be that bad, but . . . )

    Many of the business that are shut down that I see are local restaurants that don’t fit a pick-up model well, or others that require public gathering by nature.  If they open up, there is food purchase, hiring, cleaning, spooked patrons, low sales, employees who are making more sitting at home collecting unemployment.  Opening up is would be almost certain economic suicide and a chance to increase losses.  Who would open up in such circumstances?

    Now if you sell plants, fix computers, or sell toilet paper, you are going to survive, I’d speculate.

  2. John Hobbs

    With his usual dearth of compassion mean old Mr Miller has summed it up pretty well. While I doin;’t see the number of violations of common sense that he apparently does in socially circumspect Davisville here in beautiful SPRAWLING Foothill Farms, I see the same potential for extending the suffering, personal and economic even longer. Questions for Alan: Do you remember being terribly socially responsible as a teenager? Since many have no structure to call home, where would you have the homeless “isolate?”

    1. Alan Miller

      With his usual dearth of compassion mean old Mr Miller . . .

      Scrooge has nothing on me.

      Do you remember being terribly socially responsible as a teenager?


      Since many have no structure to call home, where would you have the homeless “isolate?”

      Far away.

      (And let me be clear:  what you may call homeless, I call meth addicts, mass-hoarders, criminals, alcoholics and vagrants.  Those who lost their ability to put a roof over their head due to economic circumstance or severe mental illness, different story and should get societal assistance)


        1. David Greenwald

          Yes there’s going to be a series of articles as we move from now to resumption of normal and there will be debates over how fast and how far to go.

        2. Richard McCann

          Counties exist at the pleasure of the state. There’s no particular constitutional protection for their authority. It has always been open to being “undermined.”

        1. Richard McCann

          No, it doesn’t because the state’s authority is expressly protected in the US Constitution, whereas counties are not (nor are cities).

  3. Ron Oertel

    David: “Yes there’s going to be a series of articles as we move from now to resumption of normal and there will be debates over how fast and how far to go.”

    Seems to me that these “debates” can be overwhelmed by forces that are actually in power.  From article, above:

    “He’s showing California who’s really in charge. Gov. Musk flexed and declared himself above the law. He also ramped up the pressure on scared employees by making it clear they will lose their unemployment benefits if they don’t return to work.”

    “Gonzalez said Musk’s flagrant violations fit a pattern in which wealthy Silicon Valley companies get away with things – like worker misclassification and wage theft – that no small business would dare to try.”

    I don’t know if there’s any businesses in Yolo county that are this powerful, at this point.

    1. David Greenwald

      I do know that there are no businesses in Yolo County with the power of Tesla – although, if you think of UC Davis as a business, maybe you could have a debate on that. Nevertheless, the decisions that are going to impact our lives are going to be made first at the local level by local people and not by Tesla.

      1. Ron Oertel

        The point regarding UCD did cross my mind, but they’re dependent upon the state to survive. As such, their power is more limited.

        Regarding “local people” making decisions, have you not witnessed the protests and violations around the state and country?  Do you think that Yolo county is immune to that?

        And, do you think examples such as the way that government handled Elon Musk will encourage cooperation?

        In any case, perhaps there’s no similarly powerful business in Yolo county, so far.


        1. Ron Oertel

          I was making a point regarding the political system, and the interests which ultimately control it to a large degree.  For better and/or worse, as they say.

          It’s not even a comment regarding whether or not Tesla should re-open. But, that decision was “removed” from government authority, to some degree. Including “local” authority.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Someone has to back down for them to get their way.

          Those who would not “back down” are generally not elected in the first place, as they don’t have the financial support to run a campaign.


    2. Alan Miller

      I don’t know if there’s any businesses in Yolo county that are this powerful, at this point.

      No, not even close.  But it doesn’t prevent people here from trying to shame Davis for not having business taxes akin to Palo Alto’s.

      1. Jeff Boone

        “shame Davis” Do cities have feelings?

        Interesting how the Latinx population is so over-represented in COVID-19 cases.   That same demographic appears to be the most economically impacted by the shutdown of the economy.

        The latter result is easy to understand but not the former.

        1. David Greenwald

          I pointed out to you a week or so ago people of color are disproportionately impacted. I think the answer is fairly simple – harder to social distance, later to stop working or work remotely.

        2. Jeff Boone

          There is some great irony in consideration of the risk of physical harm that many Hispanic immigrants undertake to come to this country where they can earn a better life for their families only to have the administrative state force them back into greater poverty to eliminate their risk of physical harm.

  4. Bill Marshall

    Alan… srsly?

    You are apparently showing symptoms of paranoia… IMHO…

    We (family) are being prudent… social distancing, wearing masks (spouse made one for me that includes coffee filters), but I do it out of respect for others… and their ‘concerns’… [to be clear, not ‘social distancing’, particularly …]

    Numbers are ‘high’, risk is low… even before being prudent, numbers, risk was low…

    Now, being prudent, #’s and risk are less… since “the beginning”, covid rates, per capita, in US, is

    1,082,910 infected, tested… probably a low number given lack of testing… I’d multiply by five.  Still the US population is 328 million… 0.33-1.6%

    Recoveries to date are ~ 22%… folk who are “over it”… that number is low, by at least 10X , given reporting, and the fact that the virus ‘takes it’s course’, if you have it…

    Deaths are around 84,000… per capita, ~ 0.03%…

    Data… demonstrable… data sources:

    Being prudent, good… being paranoid, not so much…

    We will continue to consolidate outings, and will play by the current rules [funny, as it used to be, wear a mask in a place of business, particularly a bank, ‘security’ would be called, now 180 degrees from that]… but am not “worried”… more, annoyed…

    We will continue being prudent, but “the sky hasn’t fallen”… we actually do ~ 90% of what we did before the “shut-down”… I particpate daily in a Stanford health survey… I have no fever, no respiratory issues, but do sneeze and cough… it’s allergy season…

    And, it seems, I’m allergic to alarmists…


    1. Alan Miller


      You either get the virus or you don’t.  You’re either symptomatic or you’re not. You’re either susceptible to death or heavy bodily damage or you’re not.

      I too wear the mask out of respect for others, as that’s how it works.

      And if you are not wearing a mask, you are threatening me and everyone else, and you’re going to get a piece of my mind.  Remember the several day latency period and the 30-40% asymptomatic (or so -ish).  And if you’re jogging, driving or biking with a mask, you’re an idiot who’s making yourself uncomfortable and not helping anyone..

      A friend was heading to Mexico because “no one has died there and they aren’t afraid of the virus”.  That was six weeks ago, and they were right, only 20 people had died.  I said, “to me, Mexico looks like super-dry brush about to go up like an inferno.  I wouldn’t go.”  Now the death toll is 4000.  Paranoid?

      I suspect that I am.  I tried to find out by getting help through Paranoids Anonymous.  But no one would tell me where the meetings were.

      srsly . . .

      1. David Greenwald

        “You’re either symptomatic or you’re not.”

        Part of the problem is it’s not quite that simple. Most of the symptoms are common to a range of illness. And we don’t really have the resources to handle people with some but not all of the symptoms. That’s a big underreported problem. That said I believe everyone in public should be wearing masks. But I don’t think the line is as bright on the symptoms.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Alan, I said, I wear ‘the mask’ (somewhat good movie by the way, but I have to take Jim Carrey in small doses)… not that I believe it is necessary, but am playing by the rules, and being respectful… although I am symptomless, and technically, “at risk”, and have been doing the stay at home, limiting travel thingy, but not acting in a paranoid way… still go to stores when I need to (or want to)… will be travelling to CO next week… long planned trip… visiting family… knowing that the per capita incidence of covid, and mortality rates are higher there than in CA… by what you imply, we should not return to CA…

        Call Newsome…

        Call P.A.   srsly…


    2. larryguenther

      “the sky hasn’t fallen”

      Hasn’t it?  The Vietnam war took 20 years to kill 58,209  people from the US (Wikipedia).  Covid-19 exceeded that number in 2 months.

      1. Keith Olsen

        The Vietnam war took 20 years to kill 58,209  people from the US (Wikipedia).  Covid-19 exceeded that number in 2 months.

        And the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed @100,000 on day one.

        So what’s your point?

        1. David Greenwald

          His point is to put the death count of COVID into historical context. Here we stopped fighting a war because – in part – the huge toll it took with no clear progress toward an objective. This has caused more devastation in two months.

      2. Bill Marshall

        The US “civil war” (if that can be said… not that the two words can stand together), on a per capita basis, was magnitudes worse… big time… negates the Vietnam argument”’

        “Spanish flu” (mis-named, perhaps, but definitely did not originate in Kansas!), per capita, was far worse… (negates the magnitude of the current event)

        Your analogy fails… big time, two levels…

        But if you believe “the sky is falling”, go for it… your 1st amendment right… doesn’t mean it’s true/factual…

        That said, be prudent, be well…

  5. Keith Olsen

     That one is that the state requires there to be no deaths in the last 14 days to move to Stage 2 for re-opening

    That’s ridiculous.  One death can shut down a whole county.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Death from what cause?  Nobody should die of anything?

        Stop driving… if we all did that, we’d reduce deaths…

        Stop overeating… if we all did that, we’d reduce deaths from obesity/diabetes…

        Stop ageing… one of the major causes of death…

        Stop births… all result in death…

    1. Keith Olsen

      So a county goes 13 days with no deaths then someone dies in a nursing home on day 14 and that pushes back Stage 2 reopening for two more weeks.

      Tell me that’s not ridiculous.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Can’t, as it is ridiculous and ludicrous.

        Am forgetting who said “two realities.. death and taxes”

        looks like we will see an increase in both…

      2. Don Shor

        So a county goes 13 days with no deaths then someone dies in a nursing home on day 14 and that pushes back Stage 2 reopening for two more weeks.Tell me that’s not ridiculous.

        It’s not ridiculous.
        You didn’t answer my questions.
        How many deaths would you prefer? What metric would you use?
        In the absence of widespread testing to give us a baseline of the prevalence of the virus, symptomatic and asymptomatic, in the community, we don’t know the trend lines. So all we know is the number of cases that tested positive, and the number of deaths attributable to the disease.
        Problem is, from the start you’ve minimized the impact and severity of the disease. You’ve compared it to the flu. You don’t believe the health experts. You celebrate people who flout the law and protest to resume business as usual.
        So I’ll ask you to provide the metrics you would use in deciding to reopen businesses, tell us what you would suggest be done if infections spike after that, and how you feel we should collectively deal with this pandemic going forward.

      3. David Greenwald

        That’s essentially what has happened – except it was not one but two and not in a nursing home.

        However, despite this, “Yolo County officials are making the case to the state today that two COVID-19 deaths reported Tuesday should not be considered evidence of recent community transmission and thus inhibit the county’s ability to move forward with reopening more activities locally.” This is why I said early and you ignored it, that deaths are used an indicator of recent community transmission rather than a measure in and of themselves.

      4. Keith Olsen

         That one is that the state requires there to be no deaths in the last 14 days to move to Stage 2 for re-opening

        Doing the math where the common flu has @ .01% death rate that would calculate out to            approx.  1 death every 14 days in Yolo County.  Does that shut down the economy?

        1. David Greenwald

          I think you continue to think backwards. What shutdown the economy was the overall threat of the virus spreading and being unable to control it, overwhelming the system. So the inverse is also true – you can start re-opening if you can do so in ways that does not enable the virus to reestablish itself and spread out of control. They are using deaths as a measure of how far the disease is being controlled.

        2. Keith Olsen

          I was just doing a “comparison” that as a county Yolo already averages one death every two weeks from the common flu but now just one death from COVID will shut many Yolo businesses down.  What’s curious about that is the COVID death may have been the result of an infection from a month ago or more.

          1. David Greenwald

            But you are comparing two outcomes with different threat levels and interventions. THat’s not an apples to apples comparison.

  6. Todd Edelman

    David Greenwald wrote:

    “Sacramento”, “Bay Area”

    In the Bay Area the current state of County Orders is similar to Yolo. That’s good, because it’s consistent. It acknowledges that we’re a part of the same region (the Northern California Megaregion; I’ve also called it the Bay-Delta Supercounty.)

    Obviously Sacramento County is in the same region, BUT they have no fracking face covering requirement. It’s completely fracking insane. People seem to understand social distancing to some extent, but don’t understand how face coverings protect others. There are groups congregating everywhere.  Credit to the Sac Mayor for supporting mandatory face coverings, discredit to e.g. the police and Sac Councilmember Hansen (representing Downtown, Midtown and other areas) for opposing it. There’s tons of travel between here and Sacramento. It’s an epidemiological crime that Sac County doesn’t have the same policy as Yolo and the Bay Area counties. . We can’t relax until they un-relax.

    I believe there’s also a  difference in risk between passing someone on the street at close distance and spending any amount of time with someone (not touching in either case.). That said, the width of sidewalks in Davis outside of  Downtown does not allow REQUIRED social distancing without walking in the street. So solidarity problems are not present only across the Bypass: Right now the City refuses the change the street to make it possible to respect the County Order. Perhaps some child needs to get hit by a car or the County will sue the City so that something changes? Crickets…

    1. David Greenwald

      Every morning when I go jogging, and I encounter someone in the other direction, one of us moves into the bike lane for a few seconds. Not a big deal.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Todd is absolutely right… unless someone is actively coughing/sneezing, w/o mask, passing someone for a second or two is virtually zero risk…

        “paranoia strikes deep, into your hearts it will creep…”  for what it’s worth…

        The extremist paranoids actually fuel the extremist folk who want the world to think, “nothing is wrong… open everything, no matter what…”

        Truth and prudence lie in between…

        Some thing is happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear…


  7. Keith Olsen

    Well David, it looks like you got this wrong, that state’s stay at home directives would be held up by the courts.

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down a statewide coronavirus stay-at-home order on Wednesday, siding with a legal challenge from Republican lawmakers who said the state’s top public health official exceeded her authority by imposing the restrictions.



    The ruling said the state health secretary’s emergency order is “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.”

    1. David Greenwald

      Not sure I weighed in on the Wisconsin Supreme Court which I know about as much as I do about Turkish Drummers. Nevertheless, the ruling caught a lot of people by surprise. My opinion piece was based on California law which I think Newsom is on solid ground based on the government code.

  8. Ron Glick

    “And the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed @100,000 on day one.”

    The combined first day totals for the two cities was around135,000. We are likely going to surpass that horrific total in this country alone.

    I was hopeful that the Davis diagnosed case rate was zero for many days and then we had two cases marking a huge setback and disappointment. Still the curve is down across the county and I imagine we are going to meet the standards for reopening soon. We should stay the course as we are headed in the correct direction.

    We should also get the Federal government to print the money to make up for the economic hardships people are facing. As the Chairman of the Federal Reserve pointed out yesterday “It will be expensive.”

    There will be damage to the economy from the money printing but the damage to the economy from the money printing will be less than the damage from the virus and more so if we open too soon.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Well, Ron G… if you are still working, maybe inflation is not a concern of yours…  stocks/bonds/savings and salries will adjust, likely… am good with that…

      But, unlike SS, PERS and CALSTRS, have “caps”… inflation adjustments, or ~ 2% max, whichever is lower…  but, whatever butters your bread…

  9. Jeff Boone

    Rates of hospitalizations for serious, acute conditions that require timely care fell sharply in March—when the coronavirus first took hold in the U.S.—according to claims data from insurer Cigna Corp. The rates of admission for transient ischemic attacks, or “mini strokes,” fell 31%, it said, while those for epilepsy and seizures fell 28%. The admission rate for acute coronary syndromes—which include heart attacks and unstable angina—fell 11%. Those drops are the largest the company has ever seen, according to Glen Stettin, senior vice president and chief innovation officer of Cigna’s Express Scripts.


    “It suggests that people are afraid to go to the hospital right now and are trying to deal with these problems at home,” he said. “But these are life-threatening events. The danger of these conditions is much greater than the theoretical danger of getting Covid-19 at the hospital.”

    A poll of 2,201 adults by the American College of Emergency Physicians and Morning Consult found that four in five respondents were concerned about contracting the virus from another patient or visitor if they went to the emergency room. Nearly a third of those polled in mid-April said they have actively delayed or avoided seeking medical care because of concerns about getting the virus.

    But here we are… saving lives today at the likely cost of profound economic harm and many more deaths calculated over time from the aftermath.

        1. Tia Will


          I agree with you that “hype” is not helpful. Acknowledgment of risk and taking actions to mitigate that risk are helpful.

          I am wondering what concrete steps you would take, that do not infringe on individuals 1A rights, to minimize the effects of “hype”?


      1. Bill Marshall

        Testing and tracing, GOOD!  VERY good… but we’re not there yet…

        Fear, BAD… evidence that fear reduces ‘resistance’ is abundant…

        Practical to provide more data…

        Not ‘testing’, but a start… any one can do it… if not, why not?  I wonder…

        I’ve been responding to the survey for ~ 3 weeks now… daily reminders for ‘follow-up’… takes all of about 5 seconds, daily… DATA is GOOD!

    1. Alan Miller

      But here we are… saving lives today at the likely cost of profound economic harm and many more deaths calculated over time from the aftermath.

      Had we not locked down, do you think there would be more Covid-19 deaths?  If there were more, would there not be more people not willing to go to hospital?

      1. Bill Marshall

        IMO, locking down (with the exemptions that were part of that) were good… very good…

        The concept of the ‘lockdown’ being the “new normal”, or a ‘pivot point’… well I’m not “there”, particularly on the former… IMO…

  10. Ron Glick

    “But also stopping the hype that generates the fear would also help.”

    The CDC isn’t known for hype. The President on the other hand…

    1. Keith Olsen

      The President on the other hand…

      I don’t think Trump can be accused of hyping up the COVID fear, if anything he’s tried to downplay it.

      Now on the other hand the Democrats and the press……

      1. Ron Glick

        I agree Trump is trying to downplay the crisis. But with 86,000 dead and counting the reality for many people is fear of death and not based on any hype at all. Avoiding death has long been a motivating factor for most people.

        My comment above was about credibility not hype.

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