Both Orange County and San Diego County reported their first case of COVID-19 at the beginning of March.  Since then, residents have seen firsthand what a difference leadership makes. 

Here in Orange County, our County Supervisors — with former Irvine Mayor, Don Wagner taking the lead — wasted months refusing to close down our beaches, challenging the science behind masking,  and bullying the County’s chief Public Health Officer Nichole Quick, MD over the masking mandate, until she resigned.

On the other hand, leaders in San Diego County followed the initial warnings from health experts, closed their beaches, supported the use of masks, and established a comprehensive testing, tracing, and treatment program.

The numbers between the two counties reflect the difference in leadership styles.

As of October 28th, Orange County has reported 59,213 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,467 deaths.

In comparison, San Diego County — with a population of nearly 200,000 more residents than Orange County — has performed 312,469 additional COVID-19 tests yet reports 4,003 fewer cases and 590 fewer deaths than Orange County.

And even though the number of new cases reported in Orange County during August and September were lower than previous months, the number of deaths rose dramatically.  In fact, the four highest single-day death counts in Orange County during the pandemic occurred during August and September.  On August 1st, Orange County reported 31 deaths.  32 deaths were reported on August 6th, 29 on August 27th, and the County reported 33 deaths on September 29th (which was the highest single day total).  During the month of September, the County reported 286 deaths.  By the October midpoint, an additional 143 deaths had been reported.

Irvine’s leadership hasn’t been any better.  The Mayor and Council have had six months to produce a credible, comprehensive plan to protect our residents and businesses, but we still don’t have a comprehensive testing, tracing, and treatment plan.  Irvine is home to a world-class research university that has been working on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis since the very beginning, yet City leaders never thought to collaborate with UCI to implement the best possible protective public health policies.

So, what has been done here in Irvine these past six months?  Councilman Mike Carroll has been promoting himself as the City’s leader on COVID-19.  Carroll’s first testing program — scheduled to begin in May — had to be canceled the day before it even began because he had the City enter into a contract with a company that was unable to produce a reliable program. 

In late July, Carroll tried again, this time with a small pilot program having limited impact. Carroll continues to promote the program as being available for all residents and workers in Irvine, but the program is only capable of testing a few thousand people each month. (Irvine has nearly 300,000 residents and an additional 200,000 workers travel into Irvine every work day.)

In the meantime, Carroll has spent $70,000 of taxpayer money on self-promotional Zoom townhalls about his “leadership” on COVID-19.  (An official complaint has been filed against Carroll for misusing taxpayer funds for these mailers which appear to be promoting Carroll’s campaign for Council.)

In the upcoming November 3rd election, voters will have the opportunity to select new leaders who will put politics and self-promotion aside, and focus on coming up with a plan to reopen our businesses and our schools safely so they can stay open.

ICNV Staff