The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe since it was first discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. This is a timeline of how COVID-19 has affected the UCI community since its globalization.
UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman released a statement on March 10 announcing that UCI would be transitioning to remote learning conditions for the spring quarter, which began on March 30. With this announcement, UCI became one of the many U.S. colleges and universities that have made the switch to online remote learning.
“These decisions are made in support of the concept of ‘social distancing,’ which is a public health concept to reduce the probability of contact between individuals who are or may be carrying a highly contagious disease,” Gillman said.
A suspected case of COVID-19 was cleared on March 10 after UCI Student Health Center Director Dr. Albert Chang notified the campus community that the person under investigation had tested negative.
However, UCI health officials announced on March 21 that there was one confirmed case of COVID-19 belonging to a non-student resident. According to the Los Angeles Times, the person had just returned from an international trip when they began feeling the textbook symptoms of the virus but was now in good condition.
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) recommends social distancing as a means to give health experts the time and resources to locate the source of the virus in a given community. A pandemic like COVID-19, which is thought to be spread mainly through person-to-person contact, cannot be stopped through osmosis. The purpose of social distancing is to slow the spread of the infectious virus and to provide state officials and health experts ample time to prepare.
Chancellor Gillman encouraged those living on campus to return home and announced the cancelation of all campus events with more than 100 participants. UCI Athletic Director, Paula Smith, announced on March 20 that all athletic activities would be suspended until further notice in an effort to flatten the curve by means of social-distancing.
Vice Chancellor for UCI Student Affairs Willie L. Banks Jr. announced on March 13 that commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 were canceled out of concern for the rapid spread of COVID-19. This cancelation came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order that bans group events of 250 people or more on March 12.
“We are saddened to share that the UCI commencement ceremonies will not take place in the same way as previous years,” Banks said in his remote address to students.
This is the first time that UCI has canceled a commencement ceremony since the school opened in 1965. UCI was also the first UC to cancel commencement.
Graduating senior Kaitlyn DaVisio, created a Change.org petition on March 13 titled, “Regarding UC Irvine’s Decision to Cancel 2020 Commencement,” which was addressed to Chancellor Howard Gillman and Vice Chancellor Banks.
In her open letter, DaVisio speaks on behalf of her graduating peers in her efforts to propose an alternative commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020. The petition had 5,897 signatures out of 7,500 on April 1.
As of April 5, the Orange County Health Care Agency has confirmed 834 cases, including 14 related deaths, of COVID-19 in Orange County. Those who are infected with COVID-19 are between the ages of 18 to 65 years old and older with most cases being travel- related or community- acquired.
According to the CDC, people who are 65 or older and those with pre-existing conditions — such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes and the immunocompromised — are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
Those infected with COVID-19 are likely to experience a high fever, a persistent cough and a shortness of breath. Those with more severe cases of COVID-19 are at risk of kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome and even death.
On March 31 UCI confirmed 3 cases of COVID-19 on campus and added a section to the COVID-19 update emails called “Tributes to the UCI Community”. In this section, it was announced that professor of sociology at City College and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center William Helmreich and UCI alumnus Dr. James T. Goodrich had passed away from COVID-19.
On April 6, UCI confirmed another positive case in a COVID-19 update email, which brings the total number of cases on campus to 4. According to the update email, the individual started showing symptoms on March 31, was tested on April 2 and has been self-isolating from the UCI community since March 29. It was stated that, “Given the details of the individual’s circumstance, health officials have determined that there is no need for medically advised quarantine or testing of campus contacts.”
Tatum Larsen is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.