Two newly published studies show the positive impact of Healthy Davis Together, a comprehensive pandemic response program, in Davis, California. The program, which provided access to regular COVID-19 testing, promoted vaccinations and other safety precautions and supported local businesses, reduced test positivity rates, prevented disease and saved lives, the studies found. The findings are reported in a paper published July 13 by the American Journal of Public Health and in an independent evaluation conducted for Healthy Davis Together by Mathematica, a company focused on using data and analytics to improve public health and well-being.
“Healthy Davis Together definitely had an impact on the public health of the Davis community during the pandemic,” said Professor Brad Pollock, director of Healthy Davis Together, chair of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis, and lead author on the journal paper. “While peer-reviewed evidence shows that our program significantly affected health behaviors such as testing and vaccination, and reduced test positivity, publicly available population data are not granular enough to directly measure effectiveness. Mathematica’s evaluation validates what we experienced firsthand during the 21-month period of the project – that the program was successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
American Journal of Public Health study
The journal paper describes how infection control measures and steps to encourage healthy behaviors were implemented in the Davis community. In September 2020, the city of Davis and UC Davis launched Healthy Davis Together to prevent the spread of COVID-19, facilitate a return to normal activities, and provide insight into what communities like Davis can do to protect residents in the event of infectious disease in the future. explosions.
The program included free saliva-based testing for COVID-19, one-on-one health education by over 200 Aggie Public Health Ambassador students, mobile testing and vaccination sites, enhanced county contact tracing, public outreach for encourage healthy behaviors, investment in local businesses and workers, and wastewater testing.
Saliva-based COVID-19 testing was a key part of the program. Testing was performed using a PCR method at the UC Davis Genome Center. From November 18, 2020, to February 23, 2022, 733,606 tests were performed in the Davis community with 13,066 positive results.
Between Jan. 1, 2021, and Feb. 23, 2022, the positivity rate was significantly lower in Davis than in surrounding Yolo County, according to the American Journal of Public Health. Both Davis and Yolo County had lower rates of positive tests than California as a whole during the same period.
A business partner program, run by the city of Davis in cooperation with the Davis Chamber of Commerce and the Davis Downtown Business Association, helped business owners adopt or adapt practices to improve safety. The program provided partners with grants, personal protective equipment, employee testing for COVID-19, customer incentives, marketing and public health educational materials.
Estimators from Mathematica used an advanced analytical technique to estimate what would have happened in Davis without a comprehensive pandemic response strategy. Drawing on data from a wide range of sources, they compared changes in Davis with a matched set of comparison communities that resembled Davis in terms of demographics, community characteristics, and pre-program outcomes.
According to Mathematica researchers, in the first 16 months the program’s efforts helped prevent 4,144 cases of COVID-19, reducing the number of cases by 60%, avoiding 275 COVID-19-related hospitalizations and 35 related deaths. COVID-19.
Mathematica’s analysis found that Healthy Davis Together was highly cost-effective. The program spent $34.1 million on activities at Davis through January 2022, with more than three-quarters of the spending driven by clinical trial costs. At the same time, the Davis community saved an estimated $112.7 million through wages withheld from cases prevented, health care costs avoided from hospitalizations avoided, and value created from life years saved from deaths prevented.
“Using objective, data-driven methods, we wanted to answer a simple question: Did the program work?” said Aparna Keshaviah, a principal researcher at Mathematica. “After isolating effects associated with Healthy Davis Together from confounding effects due to socioeconomic and demographic factors, community characteristics, and the changing nature of the pandemic, we have one answer: Healthy Davis Together successfully increased testing for COVID-19 in Davis and led to modest but significant improvements in the health and economy of the Davis community by flattening the sickness curve during booms and helping the labor market rebound more quickly after federal support ends.