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November 18 - Updates on COVID-19

Section 1

Peter’s Tales: Can you solve this word problem?

A silver train leaves Los Angeles at 7 a.m. and travels east at 60 mph. At the exact same time, a blue train departs Chicago, heading west at 55 mph. Both trains carry 100 passengers. When they cross paths, how many passengers will have COVID-19?

If you’re thinking there’s no way to know how many folks on these trains are infected, you’ve answered correctly. The same is true for other modes of travel, from airplanes to Uber. Because people who carry the coronavirus can be contagious without showing symptoms, boarding public transportation always poses unknown risks. Even if you drive solo (the safest way to travel), you’re not 100% in the clear, because you could still catch the virus at your destination.

The point of this exercise isn’t to suggest never leaving home, but to be aware of the risks and take proper precautions, especially during this time of sharply rising case numbers. The CDC offers solid advice and resources for travelers. This holiday season, health officials recommend avoiding travel, but if you must hit the road, please brush up on the latest advisories and tips, including California’s new travel and quarantine guidelines and UCI’s travel notices.


Case count

Three new positive cases of coronavirus have been reported since yesterday. Visit the UCI dashboard to see the latest case information.


Mental health support services for faculty and staff

Faculty and Staff Support Services at UCI offers support on a wide range of issues, including work-related stress, relationship or couples issues, family problems, depression, anxiety and other emotional problems, grief and loss, and alcohol/drug and other addictions. Services include:

  • Problem assessment in safe, confidential virtual sessions, in which individuals can discuss problems, set priorities, and determine appropriate campus and community resources.
  • Referrals to the Employee Assistance Program, mental health resources within UCI faculty and staff health plans, as well as community resources.
  • Crisis intervention assistance to individuals experiencing critical incidents or problems.


UC advances equality, inclusion by implementing nonbinary gender identification

The University of California announced Nov. 17 that it has adopted systemwide gender identity and lived name options for UC-issued documents and information systems. UC’s new Presidential Policy on Gender Recognition and Lived Names, which acknowledges gender identities other than man and woman, is another milepost in the University’s commitment to equity and inclusion for all.


This section curates noteworthy coronavirus news, trends and opinions. No endorsement by UCI is implied. Note: Some news sites require subscriptions to read articles. The UCI Libraries offer free subscriptions to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and OC Register for students, faculty and staff

CDC updates to higher ed

The CDC has updated its COVID-19 resources page for Colleges, Universities, and Higher Learning.

Orange County to provide free in-home kits to test spit for coronavirus

Yesterday, Orange County leaders announced a new initiative to hand out do-it-yourself kits to test saliva for the coronavirus in a push to curb spread at inevitable holiday gatherings. Starting next week, the county will make 11,000 spit testing kits available for Orange County residents to do themselves at home. While the first batch of 11,000 test kits are reserved for those in Santa Ana and Anaheim, officials said another 500,000 test kits will be available for all Orange County residents in December.

California expands mask mandate

Faced with startling spikes in coronavirus cases, California health officials issued a new mandate this week requiring residents to wear face coverings whenever they’re outside their homes, with few exceptions.

Immunity to the coronavirus may last years, new data hint

Eight months after infection, most people who have recovered still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, the new data show. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come.

Pfizer and BioNTech say final analysis shows COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective

final analysis of the Phase 3 trial of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine shows it was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns.

Drive-through COVID-19 testing center opens in Brea

COVID-19 testing startup Sameday Testing today announced the opening of its first coronavirus testing center in Orange County, a drive-through facility located in Brea, at the intersection of State Routes 57 and 90.

South Coast Plaza virtual tree lighting

South Coast Plaza will host its annual tree-lighting ceremony virtually on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, and feature performances from the Orange County School of the Arts.

Delta will continue to block middle seats until March

Delta announced this morning that they will continue to keep middle seats empty on its flights through next March. They noted they are the only U.S. airline to block middle seats.

LAX launches on-site coronavirus testing

Yesterday, LAX launched interim testing sites at three terminals as a precursor to an on-site rapid testing lab set to open the first week of December. The tests available at the current sites cost $150 and provide results in 24 hours.

Honoring Irvine’s COVID-19 victims

The City of Irvine seeks to honor and remember its residents who have died from COVID-19 by establishing a memorial web page and video tribute. Family members who would like their loved one included in the remembrance may submit a photo and a quote honoring the resident via an online submission form. Fourteen Irvine residents have passed away due to COVID-19 this year. The web page and video will be available to view online by the end of the year.


Amid the heartbreaking loss of life and economic hardship wrought by the coronavirus, we recognize the need for stories of kindness, hope, courage and humor. 

Germany hails couch potatoes as heroes of the pandemic

The German federal government on Saturday released an online video praising an unexpected hero in the country’s fight against the coronavirus: the couch potato.

The ad, entitled “#specialheroes – Together against corona,” is a 1.35-minute video and calls on people in Germany to follow the honorable example of the modest couch potato citizen.


What have you been up to during the pandemic? Send photos and/or words about your activities, workstation, volunteering or academic adventures to marketing@uci.edu or post on social media with the #UCIconnected hashtag.