California Moves to Dramatically Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law new first-in-the-nation legislation that could dramatically reduce prescription drug prices for all Californians.

The legislaton allows the State of California to create its own drug label, Cal Rx, and to produce and distribute its own line of biosimilars, biosimilar insulins, and generic drugs, with the aim of improving access for consumers and lowering prices.

The California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) is now authorized to develop manufacturing partnerships to produce or distribute generic prescription drugs, making essential medications affordable and accessible to more patients.  It will also inject much needed competition into near monopoly markets that have driven up prices for consumers and help end sometimes critical drug shortages.

Councilmember Melissa Fox and Senator Richard Pan

Because precription drug prices are one of the largest drivers of rising health care costs, this new legislation will also reduce the overall cost of health care.

As Governor Newsom said in advocating for the new law, “Prescription drug prices are too high. I’m proposing that California become the first state in the nation to establish its own generic drug label. It’s time to take the power out of the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies.”

Governor Newsom further noted, “The cost of health care is way too high. Our bill will help inject competition back into the generic drug marketplace – taking pricing power away from big pharmaceutical companies and returning it to consumers. California is using our market power and our moral power to demand fairer prices for prescription drugs. I am proud to sign this legislation affirming our ground-breaking leadership in breaking down market barriers to affordable prescription drugs.”

As the legislation’s principle author, Dr. (and State Senator) Richard Pan, pointed out, “Prescription drugs don’t work if people cannot afford to take them.  We need to ensure that Californians will be able to have access to a reliable supply of affordable generic medications. The state can play a pivotal role in bringing prices down through this authority to negotiate a steady supply for all purchasers and an increase of competition in the drug markets,”  He added that the new legislation to open up access to affordable drugs for millions of Californians “is more important than ever, as the COVID-19 crisis brought to light glaring gaps in supplies of essential, lifesaving drugs, and medical equipment and supplies.”

I strongly support this new and innovative approach to lowering precsription drug prices, making critical presciption medicine and health care more available as well as more affordable.

In contrast, my opponent in Assembly District 68, Steven Choi, refused to support this important legislation and did not even vote on this bill.

His campaign has received tens of thousands of dollars from the pharmaceutical and medical industries and their political action committies. In addition, according to his legally required Statements of Economic Interests filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Choi holds substantial investments in numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Sanofi, Johnson &Johnson, GlaxoSmith-Kline, Celgene, and Novo Nordisk, so that he personally profits from high presciption drug prices.

Unlike Steven Choi, I’ll be part of the solution to the high cost of prescription drugs, not part of —  or profit from — the problem.

Irvine Community Land Trust’s “Stories from Home” Continues with Inspiring Story of Cail Cheng

I was elected to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT) in 2018, guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  Like all Irvine Community Land Trust Board Members, I serve as a volunteer, without compensation. 

We build high-quality affordable rental, ownership and special needs housing for the benefit of income-eligible families. Located in the heart of Southern California’s one of the most expensive real estate markets, there is a tremendous need for affordable housing.

From time to time, ICLT Executive Director Mark Asturias shares a story about our residents.  Here is his latest of our “Stories from Home”:

Cail Cheng

I’m very happy to present the return of the Irvine Community Land Trust’s “Stories from Home” series, where we highlight some of our communities’ exceptional residents, who all make Irvine a better place in their own ways.

This time, we’re featuring Cail Cheng, 27, a former Alegre resident who recently moved out. You may wonder why we’re highlighting a former resident, but Cheng has a truly remarkable story of growth during the few years he spent with us.

At first glance, Cheng seems like anyone else his age – he’s kind, diligent and loves art, photography and video games. But his path through life has been far more challenging than most. Cheng lives with a developmental disability. Five years ago, he wasn’t employed and had experienced very limited independence in his life. Though he has never been very verbal, his mother – June McLaughlin – heard his inner voice loud and clear: he wanted to live his own life.

Right around this time, the ICLT was finishing work on Alegre, one of our first affordable communities. Like our other properties, Alegre included certain units set aside for people living with developmental disabilities. ICLT was offering an affordable cost for a two-bedroom unit with a roommate, ideally meant to serve as a stepping stone for residents to later transition into complete independence. We put out a call for initial residents to apply, and McLaughlin was listening.

When McLaughlin heard about the opportunity and told her son, she saw a fire light up in Cheng’s eyes like nothing she had ever seen. He was still mostly silent, but there was a newfound focus – a quiet determination to grab the reins of his life for himself.

For roughly half of his stay with us, Cheng worked tirelessly to find steady employment, undergoing training that readied him for what the world would expect from him. Two years in, his diligence paid off through a job with Goodwill, where he continues to work to this day.

Just last year, McLaughlin realized that her son had turned a corner. He was much more responsible than he ever had been and was legitimately happy at his job. His time at Alegre had readied him for the next big step – fully independent living in a market rate apartment in the City of Irvine.

Earlier this year, Cheng left our community and moved into the San Mateo Apartments, where he now lives a proud, independent life. Over the course of five years, McLaughlin has seen him grow from a messy boy living at home to a self-made man capable of juggling all his bills and other responsibilities. “It’s been a privilege. I’m grateful for him as a son, to be part of his story,” McLaughlin said. “It’s an honor to be his mom.”

We’re honored, too. It gives us significant pride to have been able to – quite literally – open a door for Cheng as he hungered for new challenges that would help him grow. The fact that he’s moved on means that we’ve played our part, and we wish him the best of luck in his new, independent life!

Sincerely,
Mark Asturias
Executive Director, Irvine Community Land Trust

Thank you to everyone who has helped the Irvine Community Land Trust continue to succeed in its mission of helping people like Cail Cheng and many others.

As Mark Asturias said, it’s an honor to be a positive force in so many people’s lives.

Watch a video on the Irvine Community Land Trust here:

 

Helping Wound Walk OC

Wound Walk OC tends to the wounds of unsheltered people in Orange County.

Founded three years ago by filmmaker Michael Sean Wright, Wound Walk OC’s mission is to “Practice equity in action. Bring relief to those most in need. Inspire empathetic future healthcare advocates and field medics. Provide encouragement to communities by showing what caring volunteers can accomplish.”

Grateful for the opportunity to help my friends Teresa Lai and Jerry Chen and Asian American for a Better Community contribute 5,000 face masks to Wound Walk OC. With Michael Sean Wight.

The members of Wound Walk OC are street medics who go to where unsheltered people live — in parks and other areas — with a “wound wagon” filled with emergency medical supplies donated by the community.

They offer emergency first aid/medical care to homeless people with wounds and other injuries that, without Wound Walk’s intervention, would go untreated, with serious and potentially deadly consequences. They also provide food, drinking water, underwear and socks.

Their work in helping unsheltered people with wounds and other medical issues is truly on the front lines of the homelessness crisis — even more so under the dangerous conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Spectrum News One has reported, “While doctors and nurses continue to battle on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wright [and Wound Walk OC] is in many ways on the front lines of its humanity.”

Max Fox of Wound Walk OC check a woman’s blood pressure.

The street medics of Wound Walk OC protect themselves against the pandemic as best they can with disinfectant, multiple layers of personal protective equipment, and sets of gloves, as they provide direct relief for those who need it most.

As Michael Sean Wright recently told ABC News, “For the unsheltered communities, public libraries and fast food restaurants are sometimes their only access to restrooms, and so when those close down, as they have during this pandemic, it’s like the water turned off. If you’re not getting water flowing or the wound covered or cleaned outside, you are exposed to insects, or further trauma that’s coming and infections.  When that happens, we urge them to seek medical attention. We have great clinics up and down here that folks don’t know they can go to, so our opportunity is to intro and help them get that care.”

I’m glad that I was recently able to help my friends Teresa Lai and Jerry Chen and Asian American for a Better Community contribute 5,000 face masks to Wound Walk OC.

I’m also proud that my son, Max Fox, has joined Wound Walk OC and is putting his EMT and HazMat training to much needed use while he is on pandemic-break from college and from the Fairbanks North Star Borough HazMat Team.

If you would like to help Wound Walk OC care for our unsheltered brothers and sisters, please consider donating or visiting their Amazon wish list for needed supplies.

If you would like to know more, or learn more about how you can help, contact Wound Walk OC at woundwalkoc@gmail.com or call 949-973-3317.

The Irvine Community Land Trust Land Continues Construction Progress on Salerno, Our Newest Affordable Housing Community

I was elected to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT) in 2018, guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  Like all Irvine Community Land Trust Board Members, I serve as a volunteer, without compensation. 

We build high-quality affordable rental, ownership and special needs housing for the benefit of income-eligible families. Located in the heart of Southern California’s one of the most expensive real estate markets, there is a tremendous need for affordable housing.

Both as a member of the Irvine City Council and as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I have made it a priority to create more affordable housing, especially for working families, verterans, and people with disabilities. I have worked with legislators in Sacramento to cut taxes on affordable housing construction, and I have made for easier to more working people to become homeowners.

As we fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, secure and affordable housing has never been more important.

Through a series of special protocols, the Irvine Community Land Trust is  continuing construction on our new community, Salerno, even during the pandemic. Out of concern for our construction workers, we’ve undertaen extraordinary measures to ensure they stay safe and healthy while on the job.

I recently received some photos of the progress that we’ve made at Salerno, which will bring 80 affordable homes to the city.  Still on schedule to be completed in the Fall of 2020, Salerno will offer affordable rents as low as $550 for a one-bedroom, $625 for a two-bedroom and $695 for a three-bedroom.

Thirty-five of the homes will be reserved for those earning less than 30 percent of the area median income: 15 for veterans; 10 for individuals with developmental disabilities; and 10 for families at risk of homelessness.

When completed in the fall, Salerno will join Parc Derian, Alegre Apartments and Doria Apartment Homes as places where income eligible residents will proudly call Irvine “home.” As the Orange County Register observed, these affordable communities offer “a new beginning for veterans, developmentally disabled people and families at risk of homelessness.”

The interest list for Salerno is currently closed.  However, you can get your name on our interest list for future projects and available homes HERE.

We will notify you when a project becomes available.

Here are some photos of our progress at Salerno:

Salerno.07

Our next project, Native Spring, is especially exciting For the first time, the Irvine Community Land Trust will build for-sale homes that hard-working residents making less than $100,000 can actually afford to buy.

The Native Spring homeownership project will serve moderate-income families with a 68-house development in Portola Springs that will have all the features of any market rate for-sale project in the city. A young couple earning $76,000 to $94,000 annually will be able to purchase a home for about $370,000.

Additionally, these homebuyers will “pay it forward” by agreeing to resale provisions that keep these homes permanently affordable. This development, which will break ground in 2020, is tremendously exciting for the ICLT as it stands to make the American dream a reality for many first time home buyers.

The ICLT continues to look for corporate donors who can provide grant opportunities, donate materials and items to help build, furnish and landscape new communities. Contact us to learn how to contribute!

You can learn more about the Irvine Community Land Trust at our website HERE.

In May 2019, the Irvine Community Land Trust was awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s most respected source of information on nonprofit organizations.  You can read about it HERE.

Wildfire, Earthquake, and COVID-19: Max Fox’s Family Emergency Plan

(Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

My son, Max Fox, is an EMT and HazMat specialist.  He had been studying firefighting and emergency management at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, until he came home for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.  With wildfires raging across the state, I asked him about what he would advise local families that want to prepare for emergencies.  Here is what he wrote:

“As Californians, there are certain emergencies that we should all be prepared for: earthquakes, fire, and flood.  We should have Family Emergency Plans for these all too common occurrences.

Family Emergency Plans should include (1) an emergency family communication plan in case of separation, (2) consideration of the special needs of each member of your household (such as medications or medical equipment), and (3) plans for your most important documents (such as identification and insurance).

Documents you should consider including as part of your Family Emergency Plan are:

  • A copy of each family member’s driver’s license and passport
  • Each family member’s Social Security card or number
  • A copy of each family member’s birth certificate
  • A copy of everyone’s medical records and list of vaccinations, including your pet’s
  • Authorization for treatment
  • Property titles for your car and home
  • All of your bank, credit card and investment account numbers and corresponding customer service telephone numbers
  • Health insurance and life insurance account information
  • Photographs or videos of all of your property to make potential insurance claims easier
  • Wills, as well as living wills and a power of attorney
  • Your latest tax return
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Adoption and citizenship papers
  • Military records
  • Medications and eyeglass prescriptions
  • Important files backed up on an external hard-drive
  • Copies of your favorite family photographs

A Family Emergency Plan for the current COVID-19 pandemic should incorporate many of the same features.

For families with young children, plans should also include lists of other trusted adults who are able to look after your children should a parent become sick and/or hospitalized.

People with children — or people taking care of seniors — should also make a list that has everything the caregiver should know about the children and/or seniors, their allergies, any medical documentation that may be needed, as well as written authorizations for treatment.

Plans should also include provisions for care of your pets, if you are not able to leave them home or continue to care for them.

In an emergency, it is very easy to forget something, so an important part of making your plan should also include making a pre-prepared “go-bag” (a bag of stuff needed in an emergency that is already pack with everything you need). An emergency go-bag might include:

  • At least three days of water for every member of the family
  • Non-perishable food options, like nuts, canned goods and granola bars
  • Changes of clothing and footwear for each member of the family
  • Sleeping bags or rolled blankets
  • First-aid kit supplies
  • Emergency supplies, such as a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, duct tape, plastic bags, water purification tablets, local maps and a compass, aluminum foil, matches and a can opener
  • Basic tools, like pliers, a wrench, an axe and a utility knife
  • Personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, extra eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • Money, including a few personal checks.

I hope no one will have to use their plan, but it is always better to have a plan and go-bag and not need it, then it is to need a plan and go-bag but not have them.

Please stay safe.  Whether in case of fire, earthquake or other emergency, please remember that COVID-19 is still a killer, so be sure to wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing.”

Video: Councilmember Melissa Fox Discusses COVID-19 with Renowned Pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien

I recently had a discussion on COVID-19 with renowned pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien, the Philip Lanzkowsky Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Northwell Health, a nonprofit integrated healthcare network and New York State’s largest healthcare provider.

Our discussion covered several extremely important and timely topics, including the potential impact of COVID-19 on children, new diseases of children that have appeared with COVID-19, the effectiveness of face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for both adults and children, the tremendous strain that COVID-19 has caused on our entire healthcare system, and Dr. Schleien’s own personal story of being hospitalized for, and recovering from, COVID-19 in early March.

Dr. Charles Schleien is a long-time family friend. He received an M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. He completed a pediatric residency at Baylor Texas Children’s Hospital; an anesthesia residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital; and a fellowship in pediatric critical care medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Prior to joining Northwell Health, Dr. Schleien was executive vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is past director of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, which he founded upon his arrival at Columbia in 1999, and served as medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of Columbia University. Dr. Schleien previously served as director of pediatric critical care medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Dr. Schleien has not only dealt with the coronavirus as a pediatrician during the height of the pandemic in New York City, he is also a recovered COVID-19 patient. He became extremely ill with the coronavirus and was hospitalized in early March, an experience he recounted in an article in the New York Times.

Watch our discussion here:

Join Me for a COVID-19 Town Hall with Renowned Pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien

Join me on Thurs., September 10 at 5:00 p.m. for a Town Hall on COVID-19 with renowned pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien, the Philip Lanzkowsky Professor of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief at Northwell Health, a nonprofit integrated healthcare network and New York State’s largest healthcare provider.

Dr. Schleien received an M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. He completed a pediatric residency at Baylor Texas Children’s Hospital; an anesthesia residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital; and a fellowship in pediatric critical care medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Prior to joining Northwell Health, Dr. Schleien was executive vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is past director of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, which he founded upon his arrival at Columbia in 1999, and served as medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of Columbia University. Dr. Schleien previously served as director of pediatric critical care medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Dr. Schleien has not only dealt with the coronavirus as a pediatrician during the height of the pandemic in New York City, he is also a recovered COVID-19 patient. He became extremely ill with the coronavirus and was hospitalized in early March, an experience he recounted in an article in the New York Times.

RSVP to Alli@votemelissafox.com

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We hope you can join us for this important and timely discussion!

Learn more about Melissa Fox for California Assembly at http://votemelissafox.com

See the Facebook page for this event HERE.

Irvine Community Land Trust Distributes Free Face Masks to Affordable Housing Residents

As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’m pleased to announce that the Land Trust has distributed hundreds of free face masks to residents of our affordable housing communities.

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution of these masks.

I also want to thank Farrah Khan, my colleague on the Irvine City Council and a Community Land Trust Board Member, for arranging and coordinating the delivery of the face masks from FivePoint to the Land Trust so that we can distribute them free of charge.

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person speaks, sneezes, or coughs within 6 feet of others. You may have the virus and spread it even if you feel well.

To prevent infection, you must cover your nose and mouth when outside your home. Wearing a mask or cloth face covering can slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the release of virus into the air. It also reinforces physical distancing, and shows you care about the health of others. Wearing a mask is now required statewide. It’s also the law in Irvine, and common sense and good neighborliness everywhere.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust  guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  

We’re all in this together!

 

 

Watch Our “OC Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools” with School Board Trustees Gina Clayton-Tarvin, Kris Erickson, Keri Kropke and Jamison Power!

On Wednesday, August 12, I hosted an OC Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools, discussing when and how to re-open our classrooms with four leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.

President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.

Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.

As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”

In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts.

Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.

For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.

I asked four outstanding, progressive school board members in Orange County to join me in a discussion of this critical situation for parents, students, teachers, and school staff:

Keri Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Keri earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences.  She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.

Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.

Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.  He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA.  In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America.  He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work.  He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.

I think you’ll find our discussion very timely and informative.  Watch it here:

Full Public Participation in City Council Meetings Must Be Ensured During the COVID-19 Crisis!

The Voice of OC recently noted that “Throughout the coronavirus shutdown, many of Orange County’s public agencies have struggled to provide access for constituent voices to be heard.”

In Irvine, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our city to limit in-person participation for members of the public during City Council meetings.  As a result, since the onset of social distancing and emergency public safety measures in March 2020, members of the public have been limited in their ability to participate in the decisions made by the City Council during public meetings.

Currently, the public can make comments only through the eComment feature on the City of Irvine website, and only a very limited number of these comments have been read aloud during our live City Council meetings.

I believe this situation raises serious questions about government openness and public participation under the Brown Act, which states that “the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”  As I told the Voice of OC, “This isn’t actually a hearing, [since] there’s no testimony from the public.”

Clearly, we need to do much better to ensure public participation in our City Council meetings, while still maintaining public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For this reason, Councilmember Farrah Khan and I have placed a discussion for better accommodating public participation and accessibility on the agenda for the Irvine City Council meeting on August 11, 2020. 

In addition, we must also ensure that the public can fully participate in our very important Commission meetings.

We look forward to hearing from City staff, the Mayor and other City Councilmembers, and the public, on ways to best ensure full public participation in our meetings during the COVID-19 crisis.

Please use the eComment feature to make your views on this important topic known to the Mayor and the City Council.

Watch the City Council meeting live online HERE.

 

Join Our OC Education Forum on COVID -19 Safety and Our Schools! Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM!

Join me on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM for an Orange County Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools.

For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.

President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.

Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.

In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts. As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”

Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.

For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.

We will be discussing this lawsuit, as well as the larger questions when and how to re-open our classrooms, with three leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis: 

Kerie Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Kerie earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences.  She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.

Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.

Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.  He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA.  In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America.  He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work.  He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.

RSVP to Alli@votemelissafox.com

ZOOM info provided on RSVP

See our Facebook Event Page Here.

Learn more about Melissa Fox for California Assembly at http://votemelissafox.com

 

 

 

Irvine Community Land Trust to Distribute Free Face Masks

As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’m pleased to announce that the Land Trust will be among the non-profit organizations that will be distributing the face masks that FivePoint Communities has donated to the City of Irvine.

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution.

I also want to thank Farrah Khan, my colleague on the Irvine City Council and a Community Land Trust Board Member, for arranging and coordinating the delivery of these face masks from FivePoint to the Land Trust so that we can distribute them free of charge.

We hope these free face masks will help you to continue staying safe during these unprecedented times.

We ask that you do your part as well, and wear your mask when in public, especially when shopping.  It’s the law in Irvine, and common sense and good neighborliness everywhere.

Specific details regarding mask distribution are being arranged and will be posted soon.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust  guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  

We’re all in this together!

Irvine Again Extends COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park

Due to continued high demand, the City of Irvine has again extended the time period for COVID-19 testing at the Great Park.

Irvine began to offer COVID-19 testing on July 13.  On July 24, we added additional test appointments.  Tonight, we agreed to have the testing program continue for an additional 30 days.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Say Thank You From Orange County to Governor Newsom For His COVID-19 Leadership!

Dear Governor Newsom,

As residents of Orange County, California, we wish to thank you for your caring, steadfast, and science-based leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, we wish to counter the narrative that a majority of Orange County’s residents object to Governor Newsom’s orders mandating social distancing and face covering in order to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

We are appalled by the much-publicized and politically motivated opposition to the Governor’s COVID-19 orders by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the Orange County Board of Education, and individual “anti-maskers” in Orange County.

They do not represent us.

On the contrary, we stand with the great majority of scientists, doctors, nurses, and other health care and public health professionals in calling for mask wearing and social distancing.

We want our economy and our schools to reopen, but we know that to do so safely we will need to increase testing and reduce the rate of infection.

We join with you, Governor Newsom, in saying that social distancing and wearing a face covering is critical for keeping people safe and healthy, keeping businesses open, and getting people back to work and school.

Again, thank you, Governor Newsom, for your leadership during this challenging time!

Melissa Fox

Sign on to this letter HERE.

Irvine Adds Additional COVID-19 Testing Appointments

The Irvine City Council has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity at the Great Park.  Registration for testing will re-open on Friday, July 24 at 12:00 p.m. to fill additional appointments available through this expansion.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Irvine Providing Free COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park! Make an Appointment Now!

The City of Irvine will begin providing free drive-up COVID-19 testing for individuals who live or work in Irvine beginning Monday, July 13, 2020, at the Orange County Great Park.

Irvine will be the first city in Orange County to provide testing to those who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

This month long testing program will be available by appointment only and will take place Mondays through Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. To schedule an appointment, visit https://curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine.

The Great Park testing site can accommodate approximately 200-260 tests per day. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 virus), is available.  No testing will be provided for the presence of anti-bodies.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, including an important FAQ, visit cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

I agree with my Irvine City Council colleague Farrah Khan that “I’m happy to see that we will now be offering COVID-19 testing in our City. I understand that people were frustrated with the delay. However, it is important for us to make sure that we provide residents and workers with a quality test vendor.”

I would also add that Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the utter failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

As a result of the Board of Supervisors’ failures to follow or enforce basic state-mandated guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19, a Harvard University website that shows “How severe is the pandemic where you live?” places Orange County in the red extreme danger zone.   Today, the Orange County Register reports that “In the last five days, 5,796 new cases were reported [in Orange County], and more than half the cases of the virus in the county have been reported in the last 30 days.”

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

Orange County Needs to Provide Us With More Information and Transparency — and More Leadership — on COVID-19!

The Irvine City Council has repeatedly demanded MORE information and transparency on the effects of COVID-19 from the County, now they are providing even less!

Where are there outbreaks?

Which communities are hardest hit?

Where are the most deaths occurring?

Where should we be increasing testing?

When there is an outbreak in an Orange County nursing home, that goes unrecorded because patients will have an official residence elsewhere, and the nurses who became ill are also unrecorded for the same reason. The same issue is present with OCTA drivers, restaurant workers, grocery clerks, and janitors. If they live elsewhere, when they get sick from COVID-19 while working in Orange County, their illness or death will not be attributed to Orange County.

Anaheim officials were told by Orange County officials to keep secret COVID-19 data that shows how badly it has hit parts of that city. Have they done the same in Irvine? Orange? Tustin? Lake Forest?  In your city?

Orange County residents and city officials need this information!

There were 26 deaths reported from COVID-19 in Orange County just yesterday.

The brute fact is that this pandemic is not on the decline in Orange County, but is on the rise.

Despite this fact, It remains unclear how or even if the statewide coronavirus mask mandate will be enforced in Orange County, after County Supervisors on Tuesday declined to address any enforcement approach, ignoring the scientific consensus that face covering is the best weapon we now have against this virus, Ignoring the numerous residents advocating for it, and ignoring the fact that our infections and deaths from COVID-19 are steadily increasing.

As the Voice of OC reports, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

As a result of the Board of Supervisors’ failure to follow state-mandated guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19, including enforcement of the state’s mask wearing order, Orange County is in grave danger of losing out on our share of a proposed $2.5 billion state bailout package.

Orange County residents and businesses desperately need this financial relief!

The infuriating truth is that the catastrophic failure of leadership in Orange County regarding COVID-19 has mirrored — and is the best direct result of — the catastrophic failure of leadership in the White House.

Like the White House, Orange County needs to stop ignoring science, and stop playing games with the numbers, the facts, and our lives!