Jul 13, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

It’s been about a month since a portion of our research team reengaged onsite operations. The transition continues to go well, and what we learned from this early experience will inform future groups planning to return.

Our environment continues to evolve. As Chancellor Gillman described in a message early this month, an uptick in local COVID cases and hospitalizations means we need to be doubly diligent with our efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Next Steps in Reengaging Campus Operations

The health and well-being of our community will always be our top priority, so we encourage those who are successfully working remotely to continue doing so. Those whose jobs require on-site attention will be notified by their supervisor, dean or unit leader.

Next week, a limited number of staff members from Beall Applied Innovation and UCI Libraries will return to campus. These units presented plans that were vetted by the recovery team and the Orange County Health Care Agency. Other units have also submitted plans that are going through the review process now.

Seeking Pre-Approval for Return

We thank the leaders of these units for following the return-to-work protocols that are found on the Working Well and coronavirus websites. It’s important to remember that all returns to the workplace must be pre-approved – including those remote workers who would like the flexibility to visit campus offices occasionally – so we can properly address cleaning and physical distancing requirements. Any questions related to return plans may be directed to the Campus Recovery and Implementation Team (CRIT) at crit@uci.edu.

Increase in COVID-19 Positive Cases

In the past several weeks, the state has been experiencing a significant increase in coronavirus cases. UCI is not immune to this surge as we are also seeing a notable increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases within the campus community. At the Student Health Center, for example:

  • We saw 10 COVID positive students from March through May
  • We saw 10 COVID positive students in June alone
  • We have seen 7 COVID Positive students already in July

The majority of the recent positive student cases live off-campus, and many had a known positive COVID contact. However, we are also learning of poor behaviors such as parties and not social distancing, which are contributing to this increase.

Please remember to remain vigilant in adhering to behaviors that control the spread. This means continuing to avoid large gatherings, wearing a face covering and maintaining physical (social) distancing.

Testing for the Coronavirus

During this time, the UCI Student Health Center has been performing more testing as more students being seen by their staff meet the criteria. However, you should be aware that the presenting symptoms now are different than before. Now, the most common symptoms are headaches, muscle aches, and loss of taste and smell.

Students who feel that they have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call the Student Health Center at (949) 824-5304 or their physician’s office for further guidance. And for clarity, the Student Health Center is always open to help answer questions and provide support regardless of insurance coverage. Staff and faculty should contact their primary care provider or call ahead to an urgent care center before arriving in person.

Students who think that they qualify for testing should contact their provider BEFORE going into the clinic. And please consider using Live Health Online, a UCSHIP covered service that connects you via a tele-medicine visit with a provider online, from the convenience of your home, 24 hours a day. See the details here: https://shc.uci.edu/services/livehealth-online.

In addition, we would encourage those students who may have already been tested and/or diagnosed with COVID to please notify the Student Health Center and upload any test results through the health portal, so that we may update their personal health records and better manage the potential risk to others on campus.

For employees, tests are available at multiple locations in Orange County, including UCI Health, but only when recommended by a physician. If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, contact your doctor. For information on screening and testing (by appointment only) at UCI Health, call 714-456-7002 or visit http://www.ucihealth.org/patients-visitors/pricing-transparency/covid-19-test-billing.

For additional testing sites, visit https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing-and-screening.

Preparing for Fall Quarter

Campus recovery teams are working hard to plan for the Fall quarter, which includes plans to return some staff and faculty, as well as students into the residence halls. It is imperative to this planning effort that we all work hard to control the spread and again flatten the curve. While we do not want to reverse the steps we have taken and close down again, we must keep that as a possibility if the spread continues at its current rate.

UCI is committed to doing all we can to minimize infections and outbreaks of COVID-19 on campus while continuing to further our mission. The success of this depends on all of us doing our part to keep ourselves and our campus community safe and healthy. For an up-to-date case count, visit www.uci.edu/coronavirus.

We have established the UCI Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Center. Students, staff, faculty, parents, and community partners may call 949-824-9918 or email covid19@uci.edu to connect directly for more information.

As we enter the next chapter of our return efforts next week, we want to reiterate our thanks to all of you. We shifted to remote operations brilliantly and, so far, our return to campus has been smooth and productive. We will continue to learn as we go and adjust with changes in our environment. We appreciate your flexibility, professionalism and dedication as we continue our journey.

With Appreciation,

Hal Stern
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Statistics
Chair, COVID-19 Strategic Advisory Group

Albert S. Chang, MD, MPH
Medical Director, UCI Student Health Center

Next Steps in Reengaging Campus Operations

Please visit www.uci.edu/coronavirus for updated information on the reengagement of campus operations.
For additional coronavirus information for staff, visit the Human Resources website.

UCI Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Center is at 949-824-9918 or email covid19@uci.edu.

For details related to UCI Health, visit ucihealth.org/covid-19.

For comprehensive COVID-19 news, visit oc-covid19.org.

UCI is dedicated to helping its community learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the COVID-19 disease it causes and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle during this pandemic. You can find information at these links:

Information from the CDC about COVID-19
Information about California’s ‘resilience roadmap’

Information about California’s stay-at-home order

OC Health Care Agency

Daily metrics about the public health effects of the pandemic in Orange County