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November 24 - Updates on COVID-19

Section 1

Thankful for you

To the entire UCI community: We are thankful for each of you and acknowledge all your efforts to keep UCI moving forward. We are thankful for our essential employees who have continued to come to campus every day. And we are thankful for our healthcare workforce for their continued hard work in the face of a public health crisis. During this time of Thanksgiving, we hope you know how much you are appreciated.


Mental and emotional health support

With the rates of COVID-19 continuing to expand, local and state levels have implemented more restrictions in hopes of lowering the curve. While these restrictions are meant to keep us safe and healthy physically, such drastic change can have an impact on our mental and emotional health, as well as our well-being and academic performance. Remember the UCI Counseling Center is here to support you. Call us today to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment at 949-824-6457. If you are in need during the Thanksgiving closure remember you can call our number and select option “2” to be connected to a mental health provider. Also, check out a variety of FREE resources on how to manage stress related to self-quarantine and COVID-19 on our website.

Employee travel

The rise in COVID cases, coupled with the state’s travel guidance, reinforces the need for extra caution over the holidays. If at all possible, please refrain from traveling for Thanksgiving. Please remember that on Nov. 13 the California Department of Public Health issued a Travel Advisory for Non-Essential Travel, which triggers special travel restrictions contained in UCI’s Executive Directive on Travel. Until the state lifts the advisory, employees returning from travel outside of California should quarantine for 14 days. Supervisors and research plan owners are responsible for working with their teams concerning travel plans and ensuring that their team members follow this quarantine requirement. If you are one of our employees currently working onsite, please stay home or celebrate in small groups nearby. If that is not possible, please coordinate your work schedule with your supervisor before you leave for the holiday. Please reach out to human resources or academic personnel if you have any questions.

Last chance: Open Enrollment ends today

Visit the Open Enrollment website and UC’s virtual benefits fair to explore your options and make sure you have the right coverage for you and your family. Enroll or make changes by 5 p.m. on Nov. 24 at UCPath online.

New cases

Three more cases of COVID-19 on campus (one student, two employees) were reported yesterday. Visit the UCI dashboard for more information.


UCI launches initiative pairing first-gen faculty with first-gen students

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UCI’s First-Gen Faculty Initiative has launched a new virtual mentorship project that pairs first-gen faculty with first-year, first-gen students. The First Things First project is an evolution of the First-Gen Faculty Initiative designed to help incoming first-gen students adjust to university life and overcome the challenges of a remote learning environment.

A dietary defense against disease

The holiday season is here, but unfortunately, so is the second wave of COVID-19 cases. There is now ample evidence suggesting that critical COVID-19 cases are usually linked to such concurrent factors as obesity, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease – chronic conditions often related to poor diet. The good news is that eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or terribly time-consuming. Read these tips on how to fortify the immune system by eating the right foods while staying within one’s budget.

UCI Podcast: The frontline view of COVID-19’s disparate impact

In his role as executive director of the Family Health Center Dr. José Mayorga has witnessed firsthand the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on different communities in Orange County. Listen as he discusses how the low-income and Latinx patients have been disproportionately exposed to the virus, in this episode of the UCI Podcast. A transcript is available on the podcast page.


Serve your community at your Thanksgiving table

With travel and large family gatherings off limits, this is likely to be a very different Thanksgiving. Here are six ways to bring deeper meaning to your meal.

A Zoom-friendly idea for Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving going virtual this year more than ever before, why not make it as photogenic as possible? Try purple sweet potatoes instead of your typical sweet potato to make your pies and tarts pop on video chat and Instagram.

Blood shortages on the horizon unless donors step forward

“Lots of people want to help their communities during this pandemic — well, a blood donation is a very meaningful way of doing that,” said Dr. Carrie L. Byington, executive vice president for University of California Health. “It is an act of service that saves lives.”

Donating is simple: Book an appointment at your nearest American Red Cross donation center or contact one of the University of California Health hospitals to donate.

The UC Center Sacramento presents a conversation with Regents Chair John A. Pérez

On Dec. 2, from 12-1 p.m., the UC Center Sacramento will present: An Afternoon with Assembly Speaker Emeritus and Chair of the UC Board of Regents, John A. Pérez. Online registration is available through 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 30.


This section curates noteworthy coronavirus news, trends and opinions. No endorsement by UCI is implied. Note: Some news sites require subscriptions to read articles. The UCI Libraries offer free subscriptions to The New York TimesWall Street Journal and OC Register for students, faculty and staff.

How to spend the holidays alone

There’s joy to be found in solitude. Experts in stress and connection share how to navigate the complicated emotions around spending the holidays alone. It may not be easy or ideal, but we humans are capable of withstanding more than we know, including lonely holidays.

County Health Officer shares tips for a healthier Thanksgiving

To reduce your risk this holiday season, residents are encouraged to follow guidance from the California Department of Public Health and plan smaller, shorter, safer celebrations.

OC Health Care Agency: “Who should you get tested for?”

There are print ads in newspapers, bus wraps, bus shelters, digital web banners, billboards, and digital boards at the John Wayne Airport in English, Spanish and Vietnamese are all part of the campaign and drive people to ochealthinfo.com/covidtest to learn about Orange County’s options for people who can’t get a COVID-19 test from their health care provider, including free single-swab testing for both the flu and COVID-19 at the OC Super Sites in Costa Mesa and Anaheim.

Free at-home COVID-19 test kits now available to residents in Santa Ana, Anaheim

To get one of the at-home saliva-based test kits, residents in Anaheim or Santa Ana should visit oc.care.ambrygen.com to request for a test to be mailed to their home within 24-48 hours, or to arrange pickup from a community clinic location.

Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?

Health experts say outdoor dining tents are generally safer than dining inside, but caution that they’re not all equal.

51% of Americans say they’re likely to take first-generation COVID-19 vaccine

In a new poll, 51% of Americans say they are somewhat or very likely to take a first generation COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one becomes available. 70% of respondents said they’d likely get a vaccine if public health officials proved it was safe and effective.

California shatters COVID-19 records

The fall coronavirus surge in California is here with the state shattering a daily recordfor new cases. Yesterday, California recorded 20,654 cases, significantly surpassing a previous record of 13,400 cases.

NFL now requires players on sidelines to wear masks

Yesterday, the NFL updated its COVID-19 protocols and moving forward NFL players who are not substituting or preparing to enter the field will be required to wear face coverings on the sideline during games. Coaches who call plays are no longer allowed to wear face shields in lieu of a face mask.

Hospitalizations nationwide exceeds previous record

As of yesterday, more than 85,700 coronavirus patients were hospitalized. That number exceeds all previous records and comes ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Coronavirus outbreak at Concordia University

More than 60 students and employees at Concordia University in Irvine have tested positive for COVID-19 prompting campus officials to cancel athletic practices and urge against out-of-state travel for Thanksgiving. The positive cases were found through antigen testing made available to students returning home for Thanksgiving. These recent numbers were preliminary and the university is waiting for confirmation.


Amid the heartbreaking loss of life and economic hardship wrought by the coronavirus, we recognize the need for stories of kindness, hope, courage and humor.

Hoot, hoot, hoot! Owl in Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

It wasn’t quite a partridge in a pear tree, but a worker helping set up the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree found a holiday surprise — a tiny owl among the massive branches.

~and here is how “Rockefeller” is progressing~

“Rockefeller” is almost ready to be released

The tiny owl that hitched a ride to the Big Apple will soon be released back into the wild. Even though Rockefeller is returning to wildlife, his iconic namesake Rockefeller Center said that he will “always have VIP access to this tree.” The tree will be lit on December 2.


What have you been up to during the pandemic? Send photos and/or words about your activities, workstation, volunteering or academic adventures to marketing@uci.edu or post on social media with the #UCIconnected hashtag.