by Tia Will
On 12/10/20 I attended the Yolo County Health Council. What follows are the major points made as I saw them followed by my observations about our current situation. As I write this, we are almost 4 hours from the official imposition of California’s new COVID-19 stay at home order. I have not included the details of the order since they are widely available on line and on the county’s dashboard.
The meeting began with a concise presentation by our Yolo County Health Officer Aimee Bisson who provided the following updates:
- As of this morning, there were zero ICU beds available in Yolo County.
Some county health systems are reporting a 15-20% shortage of workers.
- The recommended time for self-quarantine has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days for the general population but 24 days for those in skilled nursing facilities.
- Yolo County has been approved for an additional testing site.
- An ultra- low temperature freezer has arrived for storage of the Pfizer vaccine which will be distributed to providers from the Health Department. After removal from the main freezer, vaccine doses can be stored at normal clinic refrigerator temperatures for five days.
- Yolo County will receive an initial allocation of 975 doses of Pfizer vaccine which requires two doses administered 3 weeks apart.
- An additional 1500 doses of the Moderna vaccine are anticipated to arrive near Christmas
- Sisson is holding networking sessions by teleconference with county providers to arrange the details of vaccine distribution when available.
- CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacies have formed a partnership to provide the vaccine to skilled nursing facilities which will be treated as pods to guarantee second dose administration on time.
- Reminder systems are currently being devised for the general public.
A subcommittee of the Health Council has researched means to improve communication between the Department of Public Health and the public. Their initial recommendations include:
- A dashboard provider page
- A link to SNF information potentially updated weekly
- A section for frequently asked questions
I give a great deal of credit to the Public Health Department, the Health Council and its subcommittee whose time is volunteered to improve our pandemic response. We have fared as well as or better than many of our surrounding counties with Davis faring better than other communities in our county. However, it is my feeling that we remain locked into the cycle of tightening restrictions, measurable improvement followed by a collective sigh of relief and premature declaration of victory which leads us to attempt a too rapid “return to normal”. I would like to stress that it is my opinion that there can be no return to normal prior to a full distribution of the vaccine first to hospital personnel, first responders, to vulnerable populations and finally to the general public. Unfortunately, I am concerned that inconsistent messaging, some avoidable, and some not, has hampered our ability to achieve an adequate acceptance of the vaccines to have an optimal outcome. If this is true, we would need a continuation of distancing, masking and increased sanitation as a societal norm rather than exceptional short-term efforts. To date our efforts have been largely reactive with “flattening the curve” portrayed as a major goal rather than a short-term temporizing measure. As a primary care provider, my preference would be a proactive approach stressing the stop of community spread rather than “flattening the curve” as the primary and necessary goal.
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