Letter: Healthy Davis Together Should Be Healthy Yolo Together


by Alan C. Miller

Open letter to Davis City Council

Dear City Council Members,

I am unclear why this testing program [Healthy Davis Together] is being rolled out to the entire population of the City of Davis, a City with a relatively low rate of Covid-19 infection.  Even more to the point, why would Davis be encouraging every resident, even those with a very low chance of exposure, to be tested twice a week, which is a very frequent testing cycle and takes a lot of testing resources?

County statistics have shown that the concentrations of Covid-19 are much higher in the communities of Woodland and West Sacramento than in Davis.  (Not sure about Winters.)  In addition, we have been informed that the infection rate is much higher among lower-income and the Hispanic/Latino/Latinx community (sorry I don’t know the proper term for today so covering all bases).

Would it not make more sense to expand testing county-wide on a less-frequent basis, rather than have a relatively high-income, low-minority-population, low-Covid-19-infection-rate community like Davis tested twice a week?  “Healthy Yolo Together” perhaps?

Additionally, since the disease can spread “exponentially”—probably the wrong use of the word, but essentially one person can spread it to multiple people without knowing they are sick—wouldn’t we actually catch more infected people in Yolo County, and save more lives, by spreading the testing throughout the county where rates are higher, and thus stop and quarantine more people and slow the spread?  I would think it would be much more effective than testing a bunch of people without Covid-19 over and over again in Davis.  And it’s not like people don’t travel from city to city even in lockdown, so it’s still good for Davis.

Also, I wonder about the optics of this.  Here is a City often criticized for being unaffordable to many, having a low population of people-of-color, and otherwise “privileged” (not a term I’d use, but people do these days), testing their entire population frequently, while nearby, lower-income towns with higher minority populations in the same county suffer with much higher Covid-19 rates.  I would think this would look bad for us.  This was the first thought that struck me when I saw the “‘get tested’ ad” on YouTube for the first time yesterday.

I praise U.C. Davis for all they have done for their student population, and for extending this testing into the community.  U.C. Davis has been stellar in keeping student infection rates low.  But perhaps the definition of “community” needs to be expanded to “County,” rather than “City.”  And if that means we in Davis get tested twice a month rather than twice a week, so be it.

Alan C. Miller is a Davis resident

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25 thoughts on “Letter: Healthy Davis Together Should Be Healthy Yolo Together”

  1. Alan Miller

    Hello Vanguard Readers & Commenters –

    I am commenting on my own letter to the Council to bring attention to it.   I would sincerely invite everyone of the usual commenters of all stripes to weigh in on what you think of my idea.  I’d also like to know if there are any flaws in my logic.

    The population of Davis is about 70K, and Yolo County is about 230K.  Therefore, testing all of Davis twice a week is 140K test kits and resources to test.  Testing the entire Yolo County, including Davis, every other week is 115K test kits and resources to test.  At Tuesday’s CC meeting, HDT announced it was expanding test sites beyond Senior Center and Mondavi to make it easier Davis residents to be tested twice-per-week as encouraged.  My proposal is that HDT instead work with the County Supervisors and instead open three new  testing centers 10 miles west, north and east, so that the entirety of Yolo County’s main population centers are covered (and they have a mobile unit for outlying areas).

    By targeting the entire County, which has a greater rate of Covid-19 than Davis, we should catch more cases, and be able to isolate more infected persons.  By targeting the H.L.X population and which has a higher rate of Covid-19, and doing outreach in Spanish and in H.L.X. populations concentrations, HDT should be able to intercept more persons with Covid-19 in our County.  This is good not only for the communities with a higher rate of Covid-19, but for the entire population as a whole.

    As for the optics part, both testing and vaccinations save lives.  If there were 115K vaccinations for Yolo County being administered through U.C. Davis, and Davis took all of them and vaccinated their citizens first, and then did the same for the booster round of vaccinations, before sharing with the County — Davis would be seen as elitist, privileged, inside-connected and probably be accused of racism.  For some reason, Davis having a program of mass, frequent testing of its entire population is not seen this way and Davis is being praised.  I don’t get it.

    I am not criticizing this program.  In fact, I am praising it.  U.C. Davis and City of Davis has done an amazing job.  I am suggesting a change in strategy and a reallocation of resources to better combat the virus.

    I would appreciate any suggestions, nuts and bolts how-to, as to how to get this done, so that the same level of resources can be shared with our broader community, Yolo County.  As always with this virus, time is of the essence.

  2. Ron Oertel

    Good points.

    Also – would like to know how this (twice/week testing in Davis) is being paid for (and by whom), and how much it costs.

    And if Davis isn’t paying for it, how did the city receive the testing kits? (And, does this mean that other communities with higher infection rates do not receive them?)

  3. Alan Miller

    Thank you, KO, RO.

    Liberals, Progressives?   . . . . your thoughts?

    (seriously, just egging y’all on to get more input and/or ideas for implementing – I don’t think this is a left-right issue – or certainly it shouldn’t be)

  4. Eric Gelber

    OK. I’ll bite (although I don’t view this as a left-right issue). My reaction to the suggested twice per week testing was also that it seems excessive. I also had similar questions about whether the resources could better be deployed more broadly or elsewhere.

    I doubt many people will follow such a recommendation (unless, perhaps, they work for or very close to a testing site). And I would presume that anyone who would get tested twice a week is already taking appropriate precautions and, therefore, is already at low risk.

    I could be wrong, but I saw this more as a general PR effort to emphasize the importance of people taking precautions to lessen the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19–i.e., masks, social distancing, vaccination, as well as periodic testing—rather than an expectation that many will actually get tested twice a week.

    1. Alan Miller

      I agree with everything you said here.  I agree that twice-per-week is probably not expected, but a way to encourage frequent testing – but clearly HDT believes they have the resources — test kits and personnel — for a huge influx in testing or they would not advertise for it.  The statement I wish to focus on is:

      I also had similar questions about whether the resources could better be deployed more broadly or elsewhere.

      This is the key.  I believe UCD wishes to help both itself (employees and students) and the community surround it with this excellent program.  I am just encouraging that the overall deployment of resources may be more effective overall if we broaden the definition of community to cover all of Yolo County.

      1. Alan Miller

        Furthermore (sh*t clock run out), I believe that since we are not really expecting twice-a-week testing by most residents in Davis, the lesser actual testing in the rest of the County would be similarly not excercised-in-full at twice-a-month if deployed throughout the County.  But since we can expect to be able to meet a huge demand increase in the City, a similar rollout to the County with a lower expectation of frequency should also be able to be served within the resources provided.

  5. Todd Edelman

    Twice a week testing is necessary for anyone not living alone who has any contact with others. A weekly test may end up going to a couple days more due to scheduling problems. The twice a week exponentially covers the long gaps that can occur between transmission, testing positive and getting test results.

    Anecdotally I heard that they have a lot of extra capacity. So I am not saying that the Davis community has to be a priority.

    From someone inside the program I was told it’s paid for by a private donor, and that the related housing support is paid for by some grant.

    Bottom line perhaps is that there should be some vetted, WHO etc formula to support or not support Alan’s proposal.

    1. Ron Oertel

      So I am not saying that the Davis community has to be a priority.

      You might not, but the program requires it:

      f you do not live or work in Davis, and are not a UC Davis student or employee, please visit the Yolo County testing services.


      So as they say, “too bad, so sad” for those who don’t qualify. 😉

      Something about “optics”.

      Hey – wasn’t there a housing proposal similar to this?

      Not all “Davis moats” are physical.

      1. Alan Miller

        Hey – wasn’t there a housing proposal similar to this?

        I get your point, but that’s a stretch.  Can we leave housing out of this one, RO?  I know that’s your thing, but . . . 😐

        1. Ron Oertel

          It wasn’t actually a comment about housing, but I found it rather amusing that the requirements are (exactly?) the same as those contained in a housing proposal which was rather controversial.

          Seems to me that they could (without redistributing the kits) simply open it up to whoever wants a test. I doubt that there would be a hugely-increased demand.

          The more important thing will be the distribution of vaccines. Have you seen what’s occurred in Florida, as those who are 65 or older are “eligible” – regardless of which state they live in? (Something like that – will leave it to others if they want to verify the requirements.) In any case, there’s been some controversy (and substantial lines) regarding that. I understand that some from out-of-state have actually made the trip to Florida, just for that purpose.

    2. Alan Miller

      Twice a week testing is necessary for anyone not living alone who has any contact with others.

      I don’t know what you mean by ‘necessary’, since I don’t think this is being done anywhere else that I’ve heard of, nor does anywhere else have the resources.  Do you mean ‘optimal’ ?

    3. Alan Miller

      From someone inside the program I was told it’s paid for by a private donor,

      A private donor?  Not U.C. Davis?  I have no idea.

      My hope and my goal is to reach those who set the goals for the program and, if it makes sense scientifically to save more lives, expand the program with the same testing resources to less-frequent testing for the County as a whole, where a higher percentage of people have Covid-19.

      Just because there is a “donor”, they don’t get to say “for Davis only” do they?  Is that even legal?  I mean, both vaccines and tests save lives.  If a donor bought 140K vaccine doses and said – “this is for Davis only”, would that be legal?   I don’t think so, so how could this be?  In the very least, it has a real elitist feel to it.  “Someone gave us a bunch of money, so we’re just gonna test ourselves over and over and keep our town safe”.

  6. Bill Marshall

    Well Alan, since you were looking for input ‘of all stripes’, this moderate will chime in…  Todd gave a clue as to funding, i.e. his understanding it may be a private donor… if the conditions of the funding, be it public and/or private, permit, I’d strongly support expansion…

    Alan’s pointing out the interaction of folk from various communities, adding Woodland, West Sac, entire county makes sense… as would adding Dixon… for the exact same reason.  Perhaps each entity could pony up enough to augment whatever current funding there is, knowing that there may be a ‘supply’ problem with the kits… not sure of the funding or logistics, the concept Alan presented is very sound and rational.  Particularly knowing twice a week is probably way more agressive than is warranted…

    1. Alan Miller

      … not sure of the funding or logistics, the concept Alan presented is very sound and rational.

      Aw, shucks

      … as would adding Dixon…

      Strictly geographically, yes, I agree.  I suggested this as I did with the consideration of jurisdictional boundaries, so county seemed to make the most sense.  As well, the awareness that the other towns in Yolo were suffering much more than Davis, while I have heard no reporting on Dixon’s situation since it’s in another county.  And Dixon doesn’t begin with “W”.

  7. Bill Marshall

    News flash… just got a call from a polling firm, re:  HealthyDavis, Covid, etc.  Seems legit… something like ‘BRI interviews’ … something happened where they could not get the demographics (believe it was on their end, and accidental)[did all off the pertinent responses, happened at the end]… for those that have phone screening devices, the number you will see is likely to be 530.447.0036… seems (strongly) it is ‘for reals’… if you are willing to be polled, but tend not to pick up on unrecognized #’s, I share this…



    1. Alan Miller

      Probably is, polls usually are geared so the questions are answered in a way that favors the outlook of those that commissioned the poll.  So, no.

      Furthermore, I doubt any of the questions pertain to, “Do you favor residents of Davis being tested less often so that all residents of Yolo County can share in this testing program?”

  8. Tia Will

    I believe what Alan is making is a great argument for a nationally consistent policy with regard to testing, tracing, and vaccination. While it is true our current system of county-based public health has been long established, it is proving grossly inadequate in this pandemic. I realize I am in the minority, but I am a strong believer in a national response rolled out using the most efficient supply chains and means of mass administration. These happen to be the models used by our military.

    1. Bill Marshall

      From what I’ve seen, read, heard,

      it is proving grossly inadequate in this pandemic.

      is grossly overstated… room for improvement, tweaking, to be sure, but…

      I applaud Yolo County for its efforts, believing that they are open to improvements…

      But “grossly inadequate” reminds me of someone saying ‘the election was rigged’, and ‘we won in a landslide’… not parallel metaphor, but if I was involved in providing health services in YC, I’d be way more than ‘ticked off’ by that comment… as I was, as an election worker who has heard that we “were grossly inadequate” (or, corrupt)…


    2. Alan Miller

      I believe what Alan is making is a great argument for a nationally consistent policy with regard to testing, tracing, and vaccination.

      I am, but that ship apparently sailed, but maybe can be called back to shore.  In the meantime, a town mega-testing itself because for some reason it can, is not a good look nor a good strategy – for SAVING LIVES.

      I realize I am in the minority, but I am a strong believer in a national response rolled out using the most efficient supply chains and means of mass administration.

      I’m not sure why you think you are in the minority.  I’m with you.  The bottlenecks have been an national embarrassment.  It’s not like we haven’t had most of a year to prepare for this rollout!  The most embarrassing is the widely distributed policy meeting put out on KOIN of the Oregon Health Department, where by the end of the meeting they decided nothing, but all got to share their “Word of the Day”.

      These happen to be the models used by our military.

      Using this model makes sense.  I have since Day 1 considered that we are at war.  War with the virus, and we as a country should be united.  That’s why I’m appalled/confused by the conservatives in the US being the ones who are not adhering/believing/calling-for-unity in destroying our common enemy.  I would think sacrificing during a time of war would be a conservative value – I expected it to be.  Instead for many it’s like, “I don’t wanna, masks itch, Waaaaaaaaa!”  Not talking about all conservatives, but the general trend to not mask, or even call as hoax, being higher in conservative circles, and the individuals behind that trend who suck.

  9. Sharla Cheney

    These are my thoughts – (after attending the UCD COVID Symposium last Wed.)

    1) there is a scientific basis for testing every 3-4 days.   When a person is infected there is a higher level in the first 1-4 days and then it drops and flattens out.  The strategy is to catch people when they are highly infectious early on and quarantine them.  The testing is for asymptomatic people who aren’t aware they are infectious.

    2)  The testing is for asymptomatic people. It involves buy in from people who imagine that they are healthy to inconvenience themselves to go get tested on a regular schedule for the UCD model to work.

    2) It’s not just testing. It involves compliance with other health guidelines – wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing, no gatherings, etc.  UCD has hired students to roam around the campus to encourage and remind people to wear masks, break up gatherings, etc.  When I go on campus, every one is wearing a mask. When I go to other cities, I see people not wearing masks or wearing them improperly.  I hear about outbreaks resulting from large family gatherings, etc.  Tonight I got into a tense discussion in downtown Davis with a man who wasn’t wearing a mask and not following any guidelines.  After his friends intervened, he apologized and admitted he wasn’t thinking about what he was doing.  The community has to buy in and change their behavior for the UCD model to work.

    3) It is expensive and would need funding to buy and set up the equipment UCD is developing and hire staff to run the tests.  It can be done.

    4) I feel grateful to UCD and the City of Davis for their collaboration.  I feel grateful that I live in a town where people are paying attention to the science, rather than politics, concerning COVID.

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