Founding Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala

PROGRAM IN PUBLIC HEALTH'S RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Never before has public health been so front and center across our planet. Preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is the very definition of public health practice. Here at the University of California Irvine Program in Public Health, we have been actively involved in campus preparedness and response since January, 2020. We have surveyed several thousand students to help us understand how to best address student health practices as well as stress and anxiety.  We received rapid COVID-19 funding to work in communities to understand the best way to communicate about COVID-19 including how to work with communities to understand a virus that has so many unknowns.  We have worked with Orange County Health Care Agency to support population level  models to anticipate hospital use, understand mortality excess and  understand the impact of the social distancing behaviors on slowing disease spread.  We are out in the community estimating the prevalence of COVID-19 among residents in the county, first responders and health care workers. But  more work is needed.  Every day our researchers are working to provide evidence-based information about the virus. Through this research and our close partnerships with public health officials at the local, state and national level we continue to keep our communities healthy, especially during this evolving pandemic.

COVID-19 RESEARCH PRIORITIES

SURGE
Drs. Domink Wordaz, Natalia Komarova, and Andrew Noymer are developing OC predictions about when OC will hit the peak of COVID-19 cases.
FORECASTING
We will track a cohort of people from UCI over time, so that we can measure their geographic activity spaces and social contacts. The goals are to measure the dynamic nature of social contacts and daily travel patterns, and to draw associations between these things and risk of acquiring COVID-19.
INTERVENTIONS
Surveys to assess UCI students’ knowledge and attitudes about COVID-19 and influenza, information sources about COVID-19, social distancing practices, social support systems, mood and anxiety levels, and stigma related to COVID-19.  We can quickly adapt and implement DESERVE remotely with participants and their family members in Orange County to build their self-efficacy for reducing blood pressure and thus risk for poor prognostic factors associated with COVID-19.
SURVEILLANCE
We will address the underestimation of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases that do not present to the clinic and do not die of COVID-19. We will collect, from 8-10 geographically diverse emergency room clinics in OC, a random sample of 1,500 serum specimens drawn from all new emergency room patients, importantly including those presenting for reasons unrelated to suspected COVID-19 infection. We will use the best available antibody test kits to process and analyze IgG/IgM antibody titers and calculate the incidence of COVID-19 positive antibody cases (and uncertainty intervals) in the aggregate clinical sample, as well as by place, race/ethnicity, age, and gender. We will communicate these results to OCHCA and a broader set of local and state officials.
COMMUNICATIONS
This project will examine real-time public health response on social media (Twitter) around these areas: (a) Affective de-sensitization over time to COVID19 (b) loneliness and depression in response to social isolation, and (c) examining expressions of trust on social media to inform PH messaging, (d) also characterizing citizen narratives over time as COVID19 pandemic unfolds (e) US national survey of individuals’ attitudes and beliefs during the COVID19 pandemic – correlates of anxiety.
GEOSPATIAL ISSUES, DISPARITIES and VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
This project involves modeling: • Timing and severity of the surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 • The likely outcome of stopping the social distancing intervention at different time points in the future • Analyzing and predicting space time clustering of disease and hospitalization across Orange County, based on demographic (age and gender), economic, and socio-cultural factors. COVID-19 disease severity varies by age and gender. The disease is also highly likely to disproportionately affect people with low socioeconomic status – perhaps especially those who do not have occupations that allow them to participate in social distancing. Already we see spatial clustering and demographic clustering in other parts of the world. It is important to assess and prepare for this in Orange County.
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RECENTLY FUNDED PROJECTS

Bernadette Boden-Albala, Tim Bruckner, Veronica Vieira, Scott Bartell | OC Health Care Agency

Population-Wide Surveillance of COVID-19 Antibodies in Orange County

Annie Ro, Ph.D., M.P.H. | UCOP Grant

Living in the Shadows in the time of COVID: Examining the Social, Economic, and Health impacts of COVID-19 among Undocumented Immigrants.

Suellen Hopfer, Ph.D. | NSF Rapid Grant

Leveraging Twitter Data for Real-Time Public Health Response to Coronavirus: Identifying affective desensitization, loneliness and depression, and trust in message source and content

Tim Bruckner, Ph.D. | UCI COVID-19 Grant

A surveillance-based approach to estimating uncounted COVID-19 cases

Tanjasiri, Sora Tanjasiri, Sora
Sora Tanjasiri, Dr.P.H. | Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

Administrative Supplement to Optimizing Access to Cancer Care for Asian American Medi-Cal Beneficiaries in Orange County.

PROJECTS SEEKING FUNDING

Brittany Morey, Ph.D., M.P.H.

COVID-19 Disparities for Pacific Islander Communities

Alana Lebron, Ph.D.

Orange County Community-Oriented Health Equity Contact Tracing

Cynthia Lakon, Ph.D.

Socio-spatial health disparities in Covid19 transmission among nursing homes in California.

Nessa Ryan, Ph.D., et al.

Surveys to assess UCI students’ knowledge and attitudes about COVID-19 and influenza.

COVID-19 COMMUNITY OUTREACH EFFORTS

OUR INITIATIVES

OUR PARTNERS

PUBLIC HEALTH ALUMNI HIGHLIGHTS

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