March 17 - Updates on COVID-19
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Anteaters!
TODAY'S CAMPUS UPDATES
Public health tiers and spring quarter update
As COVID-19 cases continue to drop and vaccinations increase, Orange County has moved from the most restrictive purple tier into the red tier. This is great news and we are encouraged that these developments will help support the COVID-19 recovery and the gradual reopening of society and UCI.
Commencement and receptions - June 12
Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer a traditional commencement ceremony due to the health and safety concerns still presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated state and county restrictions. However, we are finalizing plans to provide our graduating students with a commencement stage experience and photo opportunity, to be paired with a virtual ceremony and receptions.
Extended COVID-19 relief for flexible spending accounts
Due to the pandemic, you may have ended 2020 with money in your Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) that you were not able to use. UC has approved some temporary changes to support employees who are at risk of losing their FSA contributions.
New campus case*
One student tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. For more information, visit the UCI COVID-19 dashboard.
UCI COVID-19 NEWS AND EVENTS
- One Year into the Pandemic: UCI’s Scientific Contributions, Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Blood drive, Friday at the Honda Center, appointment required
GENERAL COVID-19 NEWS
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 Times, Wall Street Journal and OC Register for students, faculty and staff.
Antibodies present in about 1 in 5 blood donations from unvaccinated people
In the first week of March, more than 20% of blood donations from unvaccinated people had COVID-19 antibodies, according to data from the American Red Cross.
US Health Department announces $10 billion to expand coronavirus testing in schools
The US Department of Health and Human Services is funneling $10 billion to states to help implement coronavirus surveillance testing in K-12 schools across the country, the agency announced Wednesday. It’s part of the Biden administration’s push to help schools reopen safely for in-person learning.
Moderna begins testing its COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 6 months
Moderna Inc. said it has begun delivering experimental doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to children as part of a study to determine whether it is safe and effective in those as young as 6 months. The trial aims to enroll about 6,750 volunteers in the U.S. and Canada.
COVID-19 vaccine coverage has been lowest in more vulnerable counties in the US, CDC study finds
In the first two and half months of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the US, counties considered to have high social vulnerability had lower vaccine coverage than counties considered to have low social vulnerability, according to a study published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Asian Americans have been verbally and physically attacked, shunned during pandemic, study shows
Since coronavirus shutdowns began last March, thousands of Asian Americans have faced racist verbal and physical attacks or have been shunned by others, according to a study released Tuesday.
Coronavirus strains first detected in California are officially ‘variants of concern,’ CDC says
Two coronavirus strains first detected in California are now officially “variants of concern,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variants may be about 20% more transmissible, the CDC said, citing early research. Some COVID-19 treatments may also be less effective against the strains. Still, the CDC didn’t say that vaccines would stop working against them.
Disneyland plans to reopen on April 30
It’s been a long year for Disneyland fans, but “The Happiest Place On Earth” is finally set to reopen its doors. The Disney resort, which houses Disneyland and its sister theme park California Adventure, plans to reopen with limited capacity on April 30, the company announced Wednesday.
TALES FROM THE LOCKDOWN
Nicole Feldman, communications officer for health affairs at UCI, shares the events and lessons of her tumultuous year.
In 2020, COVID-19 was the least of my problems... but made them all worse.
I started the year off in Cambodia, fighting a parasite.
In March, the U.S. State Department told Americans abroad to come back now or stay indefinitely with no help from the embassies. My husband and I packed up or sold everything we owned in three days and took the last flight through Taipei.
I was grateful to start working at UCI in July, but buying furniture as COVID cut off supply chains was painful.
Then the fires hit, and I experienced the worst asthma flare up of my life, unable to even sit up for two weeks.
Then the most “2020” moment of my year: I left my husband. It wasn’t because of the pandemic... but the transoceanic move, living with parents, paltry job market, and daily inconveniences from COVID-19 didn’t help.
He kept the apartment, so I was homeless during the pandemic for a second time. I so appreciated UCI’s understanding as I tried to figure things out.
I valued stability before 2020, but COVID-19 has been a reminder of how much more stressful and challenging life is without it. As our world continues down Climate Change Road, I hope governments – and employers – recognize the importance of safety nets, gradual changes, and understanding how difficult times like these can be.
HOPE, INSPIRATION, LAUGHTER
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.
Rescue cat wears glasses to help kids feel confident in them too
Truffles, the cat. Courtesy of A Child’s Eyes
A sassy cat named Truffles is helping children see the beauty in wearing glasses. Truffles “works” at A Child’s Eyes in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Clients are as young as 4 months old; most are 2-5 years old. Children can feel scared or insecure about being fitted for glasses, but when Truffles struts out modeling her stylish frames, everything changes.
With support from UCI Student Affairs, student Karishma Muthukumar, who is UCI’s Dalai Lama scholar and a Barnes & Noble College Scholar, led a campuswide call for letters of support to UCI students. The initiative was part of The All-truism project, and more letters can be found on Instagram. All-truism (“we can all be true”) is a new project supported by the Barnes & Noble Scholarship that aims to create connections through community, compassion and the creative arts.
If you have a shoutout, or if you’d like to share what you’ve been up to during the pandemic, send photos and/or words about your activities, workstation, volunteering, etc., to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on social media with the #UCIconnected hashtag.
* Potential workplace exposure: UCI provides this notification of a potential workplace COVID-19 exposure. Employees and subcontractors who were in these locations on the dates listed may have been exposed to the coronavirus. You may be entitled to various benefits under applicable federal and state laws and University-specific policies and agreements. The full notification is available on the UCI Forward site. If you have been identified as a close contact to a COVID-19 case, the UCI Contact Tracing Program will contact you and provide additional direction.