Irvine Holds Virtual Press Conference for COVID-19 Update

By Irvine Weekly

May 12, 2020

Irvine Mayor Christina Shea spoke during a virtual press conference Monday May 11, to address the community with an update regarding COVID-19.

Shea was joined by Dr. Martin Fee, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer from Hoag Hospital, who spoke about the Hoag’s current bed capacity and ventilator availability.

While the state is still under Stay-At-Home order, Shea explained that the city of Irvine is progressing into the first part of Stage 2 of California’s reopening plan, which includes curbside pick up for retail locations and guidelines for warehouses and manufacturing to move forward.

“Many retailers are able to increase pick-up and delivery options, while encouraging social distancing during these transactions,” Shea said. “The continued use of face coverings for personnel and patrons is also required.”

Shea also said she was pleased to announce that Irvine’s summer concert and outdoor movie programs would continue this year, with social distancing modifications.

“Although these traditions will look different than they did in the years passed, Sizzling Summer Concerts are tentatively set to begin July 12 at the Orange County Great Park Festival Parking Lot. The five-concert series of family friendly shows will be presented in a drive-in format,” Shea said. “Social distancing protocols will be in place to ensuring a worry-free evening of fun.”

Shea added that Irvine’s Movies on the Lawn will also continue with a drive-in format, beginning August 1. While plans are currently tentative, Shea mentioned that the city would only continue to move forward at the pace of county and state regulations.

“The measured reemergence into social events and business activity is dependent on our continued compliance with the city, the county and the state guidelines,” Shea said.

Dr. Fee, who handles daily operation oversight of Hoag’s strategic IT innovations, explained that one of the state’s first COVID-19 patients was treated at Hoag’s campus in Irvine. Fee reported that the patient did well, and since then Hoag has been able to learn how to properly treat patients and keep up with demand.

“Thankfully, we have a lot of capacity. Only 3 percent of Hoag’s hospital beds are taken up by COVID-19,” Fee said. “Only 1 percent of those patients are in ICU and only 1 percent of our ventilators are being utilized.”

Addressing the confusion around testing, Fee explained that there are currently two types of tests. One test detects the presence of the coronavirus, which Hoag has completed approximately 5,000.

The other test will detect the virus’ antibodies, which Fee believes will play a larger role in allowing the reopening of society. Although, he explained that in the rush to get FDA approval for these antibody tests, some came back with “marginal” results.

“Coming up with a meaningful antibody test is critical to really understanding how many of the community has been exposed and may be immune,” he said. “Hoag is working very closely with the OCHA to develop these tests that are much more accurate.”

While the community is still dealing with the containment of COVID-19, Mayor Shea said the city is on the right path. The city is planning to host a virtual Town Hall meeting on Thursday, May 14, that will address reopening and readiness amid COVID-19.

The virtual Town Hall is scheduled to begin on May 14 at 3:00 p.m..

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