In late February and early March, health experts warned us about the COVID-19 pandemic. When Governor Newsom ordered Californians to shelter-in-place on March 19th, health and science authorities made it clear that cities would need to establish comprehensive programs to test, trace, and isolate before they could safely reopen.
Since the beginning, experts have been adamant that in addition to widespread testing, we need contact-tracing, which is a well-established public health intervention, to identify the close contacts of those infected with the virus, who may have had the disease transmitted to them. Close contacts need to self-isolate, so that if they do develop the virus, there is less risk that they will pass it on to others.
It’s been common knowledge for two months that it won’t be safe to return to our normal lives without a program that incorporates testing, tracing, and self-isolating.
So, why did elected officials in Orange County and here in Irvine do nothing in March and April to establish the programs that we all know are essential in allowing our City to reopen safely?
Both San Diego County (pop. 3.3 million) and Riverside County (pop. 2.4 million) have already tested more than 66,000 residents. Both counties have also established contact-tracing programs. Orange County (pop. 3.2 million) — with nearly a million more residents than Riverside County — has performed 20,000 fewer tests. Orange County is also still struggling to implement a contact-tracing program.
Here in Irvine, unelected Mayor Christina Shea completely wasted March and April, doing absolutely nothing to prepare our City to reopen safely. Irvine still has not established a program to test all essential workers, and the Council has not released any plans for a contact-tracing program.
In a beautifully planned community like Irvine, it is absolutely unacceptable that our Mayor has not spent the past two months planning for our City to safely reopen!
Local businesses will be opening their doors again soon, and the additional 200,000 people who are in our City every workday will be returning to work. How can any of us feel safe if the established guidelines are not in place?
Our County and City officials have failed to provide any real leadership over the past two months. Unfortunately, it’s our residents — and our essential workers — who are paying the price for their inaction.
Irvine Community News & Views will continue to report on this critical issue.