For the past two months, medical and scientific experts have repeatedly warned elected officials that they must implement a comprehensive testing and contact-tracing program in order for cities to safely reopen.
So, why did elected officials in Orange County — and here in Irvine — spend March and April doing so little testing (and virtually no contact-tracing) while our neighboring counties were busy ramping up their testing programs and implementing contact-tracing systems?
Although Orange County and Irvine City officials have been spending taxpayer dollars promoting themselves as highly effective leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers tell a much different story.
As of May 3rd, Orange County (pop. 3.2 million) has tested less than 37,000 residents. By comparison, San Diego County (pop. 3.3 million) has tested 60,000. And Riverside County (pop. 2.4 million) has tested 54,000.
Los Angeles County has tested five times as many people as Orange County. And last week, L.A. Mayor, Eric Garcetti, rolled out a new program which allows free testing for all L.A. County residents.
Irvine is a bio-tech and bio-medical hub. We are home to UCI which is a highly regarded medical and scientific research institute that developed a contact-tracing app for smartphones. There’s no excuse for Irvine to be so far behind the curve when it comes to testing and contact-tracing.
Last week, the City Council finally voted to direct staff to begin creating a testing program — first for City employees and later for residents. Why didn’t this happen a month ago? The City still needs to coordinate funding and logistics for the testing program, which will take yet another few weeks. And there are still no plans for a contact-tracing system.
We’ve been sheltering-at-home for nearly two months now. It’s unacceptable that elected officials in Orange County and here in Irvine have been so slow to prioritize the testing and contact-tracing programs that are necessary in order for us to safely return to work, to school, and to our normal lives.
Irvine Community News & Views will continue to follow testing in the County (and within Irvine) so that we can keep our readers informed and updated.