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 January 11th, Orange County has reported 191,861 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,120 deaths, with 2,221 of our County’s residents hospitalized with the virus.

In comparison, San Diego County — with a population of nearly 200,000 more residents than Orange County — has performed 696,917 additional COVID-19 tests yet reports just 27 more cases and 263 fewer deaths than Orange County.

Irvine’s leadership hasn’t been much better.  The Mayor and Council had nine 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 nine months?  Councilman Mike Carroll promoted himself as the City’s leader on COVID-19.  Carroll’s first testing program — back 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 spent $72,000 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.)

We can only hope that in January the newly elected Council will put politics and self-promotion aside, seek guidance from medical professionals, and focus on coming up with a plan to reopen our businesses and our schools safely so they can stay open.