March 3, 2020

Preparedness for COVID-19

Dear UCI community,

I’m writing to assure you that your health, well-being and academic excellence are our top priorities here at UCI. Since mid-January, a dedicated team on campus and at UCI Health has engaged daily in COVID-19 preparedness activities. The dynamic situation makes it challenging to predict what to expect as the virus’s reach spreads.

We are staying current by operating in lockstep with recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Campus leaders are in constant contact with the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) and the UC Office of the President.

This preparedness work is no small task, but it’s built on a great foundation developed from past epidemics such as the measles and SARS. Among the on-campus preparedness activities are:

  • Direct collaboration and partnership among campus, UCI Health and OCHCA to ensure aligned processes and clear communication
  • Support for students whose main residence is on campus and/or who are unable to return home for any reason during this impacted time. This includes:
    • A new patient intake and screening process to enhance identification and services at the Student Health Center
    • Quarantine and isolation plans for student campus housing
    • Alternative and remote course delivery methods
  • Identification of and outreach to students, faculty and staff who are abroad and may be in affected areas
  • Increased custodial services in large gathering areas such as lecture halls and dining facilities
  • Alternative work options and business continuity plans
  • Training of medical professionals and first responders on the screening of potentially exposed patients and the use of personal protective equipment
  • New practices for staff at the Employee Experience Center to manage questions based on individual situations

News reports and social media are raising anxiety levels in all of us. If you need help in managing the stress and concerns, know that the Counseling Center is open to all students, and employees may find guidance through the Employee Assistance Program. Together, we can ensure the peace of mind of our community.

For those who have travel plans during the upcoming spring break, please be sure to check the latest CDC travel guidelines and be aware of potential restrictions on your return. Bernadette Boden-Albala, dean of public health, recently recorded an informative podcast on traveling during difficult times.

Thank you for your continued commitment to observing these simple tips to help stay well:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces often
  • If you are sick, stay home and do not travel

I am grateful to Dr. Albert Chang and Dr. Bill Wilson for their campus and medical center leadership, respectively, and dedication to our students, patients and community. We are fortunate to have world-class infectious disease and public health researchers at UCI and clinicians at UCI Health – all of whom are determined to mitigate the spread of this virus.

Please stay abreast of the latest communications from UCI at the COVID-19 webpage.

Thank you for your commitment to sharing accurate information and your support in protecting the UCI community.

Chancellor Howard Gillman