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December 16 - Updates on COVID-19

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COVID-19 vaccine arrives at UCI Health

The first batch of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine arrives this morning at UCI Medical Center. Photo by Zachary Vasquez.

Hope is here: Vaccine arrives at UCI Medical Center

Three thousand vials of hope arrived at UCIMC this morning amid a continuing surge in coronavirus cases. “This is an exciting day!” Chancellor Howard Gillman wrote in a message to the campus. “We are proud to be among the very first to receive the vaccine in Orange County.” Within hours, the first doses were being injected into the arms of healthcare workers at the hospital. By Sunday, UCI Health plans to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 2,000 of its frontline employees, in accordance with state and local guidelines, which give top priority to healthcare workers. The first batch of Moderna’s vaccine could arrive next week. But it’s not yet known when UCI will receive enough vaccines to expand inoculations to the general campus community. A UC system group is working on logistics for protecting non-healthcare workers, and UCI will keep everyone updated with the latest developments starting in January. For more information and FAQs, visit the UCI Forward vaccine page.

The vaccine heads to a storage freezer set at minus 77 degrees Celsius, colder than winter in Antarctica.

The vaccine heads to a storage freezer set at minus 77 degrees Celsius, colder than winter in Antarctica.

A UCI Health nurse gets one of the first vaccine shots. Photo by Carlos Puma.

Respiratory therapist Vita Susin gets the first vaccine shot of the day. Photo by Carlos Puma.


No new student cases for two straight days

For the second day in a row, no new student cases were reported on Wednesday. However, three employees tested positive for COVID-19 that day. Visit the UCI COVID-19 dashboard for more details.

Required training for all faculty and staff

All employees must complete the 15-minute Returning to Campus training available through the UC Learning Center. This training is required by Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Public Health. Even if you work remotely but might need to come to campus occasionally, you must complete the training. New employees have 30 days from their start date to complete this one-time-only training.

Staff and faculty testing - holiday schedule

There will be no employee asymptomatic testing during the winter break. Testing will resume Jan. 4.

Pick up your library materials this week

The last day for pickup services of library materials before winter break will be Friday. Pickup services will resume Jan. 6.


OC opens mobile field hospitals to ease COVID crowding

The OC Health Care Agency will deploy mobile field hospitals this week to help local healthcare centers respond to a surge in COVID-19 patients. One will be constructed in an empty lot next to UCI Medical Center, and might be ready to start operations by the end of next week. The field hospitals will be housed in large trailers and include canvas tents with hard flooring and temperature-controlled units that feature running water, toilets, showers and generators as well as air purifiers.


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 TimesWall Street Journal and OC Register for students, faculty and staff.

Irvine extends testing at Great Park through February

Irvine is using city funds to pay for the drive-through COVID testing, which is free for people who live or work in town but don’t have health insurance.

California getting 1 million more vaccine doses next week

With an expected 393,000 more doses from Pfizer and 672,000 from Moderna, California inches closer toward its goal of administering over 2.1 million shots by the end of December.

Answers to questions about how the vaccine will roll out

Vaccines are being administered to health workers now and will likely reach the arms of the rest of us by spring. Here’s what you need to know.

A portrait of the coronavirus at 1 year

A year into the pandemic, what scientists know about how it spreads, infects and sickens: The biggest factor that propelled SARS-2 on its around-the-world quest: People can pass it to others before they start feeling sick or even if they never show symptoms. That accounts for more than 50% of new cases, according to the CDC.

Disney kicks off PSA campaign featuring ‘The Incredibles’

The new public service campaign, “Together We Can Be Incredible,” features characters from “The Incredibles” sharing health tips.

San Bernardino County sues Newsom to stop lockdown

The Inland Empire county is asking the California Supreme Court to stop the stay-at-home order that went into effect in Southern California on Dec. 6. In a lawsuit filed directly to the top court, the county argues that Gov. Gavin Newsom had no authority to close “nonessential” businesses, halt most gatherings and end outdoor dining at restaurants. It asks for a ruling by Dec. 28, when the state’s three-week stay-at-home order is set to either expire or be renewed.

Long Beach gives grocery workers extra $4 an hour in hazard pay

The Long Beach City Council passed a resolution that would require “hero pay” for all frontline grocery workers amid the pandemic. The measure, which would take effect next month, orders grocery stores in the city to add $4 an hour to wages.


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.

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

The idea for the iconic song lyric from the 1964 Disney film “Mary Poppins” actually came from a conversation the songwriter had with his young son about the polio vaccine. Nearly 60 years later, the son is using that nugget of film music history to emphasize the importance of trusting medical professionals during the coronavirus pandemic. Jeff Sherman, whose father, Robert Sherman, was one half of the famed songwriting duo the Sherman Brothers, told the story behind “A Spoonful of Sugar” in a recent Facebook post.

The vaccine victory dance

Boston Medical Center employees celebrate the arrival of their vaccine shipment with some synchronized dance moves.


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.