To the UC Davis Community:
Yesterday I gave my fourth annual State of the Campus address to the Academic Senate, my partner in our system of shared governance. Some of my remarks spoke specifically to faculty, but there were also messages for our university as a whole, like when I said, “Together, we aren’t just surviving. We are thriving.”
It was a reference, of course, to the unprecedented challenges of the last year, and how we have managed to keep going as a university due to everyone’s hard work, flexibility and resilience. This is not to say our faculty, staff and students have not struggled; our collective efforts may be heroic, but we are only human at the end of the day. It is why we remind everyone again of the resources we have available, through the Academic and Staff Assistance Program and Counseling Services for students.
A year ago today, UC Davis Health reported the first community-acquired case of COVID-19 in the country. Since then, our faculty, staff and students have been involved in solutions to every aspect of this pandemic. You have pulled together as a community, and I am proud of what everyone has done. See UC Davis Health’s COVID-19 timeline, reflecting on how the crisis began and how far we’ve come.
I commended our faculty in particular for their guidance and collaboration not only on matters pertaining to the pandemic, but hazardous wildfire smoke, too. Through everything, we kept teaching, our students kept progressing toward their degrees and graduating, and we continued making an impact with our research, despite limitations necessitated by the pandemic.
We had invaluable staff support all along the way, in everything we did. As I said in my speech: In times of great challenges, it’s clear that UC Davis never fails to show its strength.
Yolo in the red tier
Our leadership and expertise have shone especially bright in our response to COVID-19, with our health and safety protocols, our nationally recognized asymptomatic testing program and our Healthy Davis Together partnership with the city.
With COVID-19 statistics improving, Yolo County moved out of the purple and back into the red tier of the state’s reopening guidelines this week — good news, indeed, but certainly no reason to let up in our public health practices on face coverings, physical distancing and gatherings. Also, keep up with your regular asymptomatic testing and get vaccinated when you can.
The shift in tiers will not significantly change Davis campus operations over the next few weeks. We are being cautious because we do not want to start reopening, only to have to shut down again.
Therefore, the Activities and Recreation Center will remain closed and Dining Services is not yet allowing indoor seating. We are monitoring the situation, and state and county guidelines as they evolve, so that when we do decide to open the ARC and dining facilities — even with limited capacities — we are confident we can stay open and gradually increase operations.
Until then, you can access a variety of virtual or outdoor classes and activities currently offered by Campus Recreation. And, of course, we have dining commons and other eateries that are serving takeout meals and beverages. As always, we will communicate any updates as they become available.
As for gatherings, our UC Davis rule still stands: No events or gatherings on our campuses or in our facilities, with the exception of events/gatherings that comply with related industry guidance aligned to our mission or that are in support of public health.
Off campus, in the red tier, Yolo County strongly discourages indoor gatherings. Still, state guidelines allow gatherings indoors and outdoors with no more than three households — and the county caps attendance at 16. See the Campus Status and Operations page for more information.
Wide access to testing
Regardless of whether you have been vaccinated, we urge everyone to keep up with regular asymptomatic testing (at least weekly). There is still so much we don’t know about the coronavirus and its variants, and vaccinated people may still be able to transmit the virus to unvaccinated people. So, while we are confident in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, we all must stay the course in our public health practices.
Our asymptomatic testing program is readily available, free of charge, for employees and their families, students and the community, as follows:
- Option 1 for employees and students — Get tested at the Activities and Recreation Center. Appointments are required and can be arranged through the Health e-Messaging portal. Please take note that as of Monday (March 1), you must present a photo ID to go along with your Daily Symptom Survey approval email and appointment QR code. Your ID can be your UC Davis ID, driver’s license or other issued photo ID.
- Option 2 for employees and students — You may visit UC Davis Health’s employee and student testing sites in Sacramento, Roseville, Elk Grove and Folsom, which may be more convenient for you. Appointments are required and can be arranged through the Health e-Messaging portal.
- Healthy Davis Together — The city-campus partnership offers testing for people who live in Davis or others who work in Davis (and for their family members). Healthy Davis Together has testing sites at the Davis Senior Center, Veterans Memorial Center and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Register for testing here (use “davis” for agency code), or sign in if you are already registered.
- Members of UC Davis employees’ households — Household members are eligible to be tested at any of the Healthy Davis Together sites (listed above), even if you do not live or work in Davis. Register for testing here (use “davis” for agency code), or sign in if you are already registered.
By the way, our COVID-19 response continues to generate national publicity, the latest being a segment by Univision Wednesday night.
As we reported earlier this week, UC Davis Health and the Davis campus vaccine clinic stand ready to administer more than 5,000 vaccinations per day — but are doing far less because of limited and unpredictable vaccine supply.
So, we are doing our best to prioritize appointments in adherence with government-specified phases and tiers, and eager to do more for our patients and the campus community, and for the wider community where equity in vaccine distribution is a major concern.
UC Davis Health alone has the capacity to administer as many as 5,000 COVID-19 shots per day, and hold many more clinics for underserved populations, if there were sufficient vaccine supply.
The Davis campus vaccine clinic has the capacity to administer 1,200 shots per week when doses are available, and could boost capacity by expanding hours and days of operation. (I’d like to give a shout-out here to our student EMTs and student firefighters, and other Fire Department personnel, who are giving the bulk of the shots at the clinic.)
Strength, talent, creativity
I hope you will take time to read my State of the Campus address, where I talk about our top rankings, faculty honors, research highlights, recruitments for new deans and athletics director, philanthropy, construction, Aggie Square, our fall reopening and our budget situation
I concluded by stating that I am looking forward to this year and all that we will accomplish. Of course, we will face challenges and many unknowns. But I know this more than ever: UC Davis might be challenged time and again, but no matter what, we will continue to rise through the strength, talent and creativity in our university community.
Gary S. May