Master planned for resilience

by Bryan Starr

Bryan Starr, President and CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber

Strong communities are made up of resilient and innovative individuals and businesses – those that courageously continue to work to find solutions, especially during times of crisis.

Irvine is perhaps better positioned to weather disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic than any other city. The visionary Irvine Master Plan, established 60 years ago, and responsible city management throughout our city’s history has laid the groundwork for the best possible outcome of these unprecedented circumstances.

World-class health care

Irvine is further bolstered by world-class health care institutions and medical personnel – all that are addressing COVID-19 and coming up with solutions to help us emerge from this crisis as strong as possible. One example is Hoag Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology, Dr. Philip Robinson, who treated California’s first COVID-19 patient to full recovery.

Dr. Robinson has played a crucial role in keeping Hoag staff and physicians informed on COVID-19-related advancements. They often describe Dr. Robinson as an angel on Earth, noting that his calm and welcoming demeanor helps get them through the toughest days of the crisis. Dr. Robinson has also partnered with the City of Irvine to educate the community through a virtual town hall.

Innovation economy

Irvine has another powerful weapon to fight the disease. It is home to strong innovative sectors in life science, biomedicine, research and technology – all addressing COVID-19 and developing solutions to help us overcome this crisis sooner rather than later.

Life science and medical technology companies with major Irvine operations – including AbbVie Inc., Bio-Medical Devices International Inc., Edwards Lifesciences Corp., Masimo Corp. and Medtronic PLC, and as well as others – are developing and manufacturing products, from wearable monitoring devices and ventilators to high-tech face shields for medical workers to help deliver lifesaving care to patients.

At UC Irvine, researchers, medical personnel and students are making discoveries that will help treat and cure patients with COVID-19, and help prevent future outbreaks. UCI Health launched a clinical trial to test the viability of a potential therapy for COVID-19 patients using a drug once developed to treat the Ebola virus.

The highly trained medical teams of other Irvine health care institutions are conducting research and clinical trials of their own to find vaccines for treating coronavirus patients. Among them, City of Hope is addressing the coronavirus threat on a number of fronts, including the preclinical development of a coronavirus vaccine.

Small-business owners are innovating in new ways to sustain commerce and connection with the community. These companies are reopening responsibly to protect their most valuable assets – their workers and customers.

Irvine residents are doing their part, too. Planned features of our city make that easier. An extensive network of beautifully appointed villages that have always connected us now helps us adhere to social distancing.

Moving forward together

To be certain, we face challenges and hardships as we deal with the health, societal and economic pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But, along with our many community partners and city leaders, the Greater Irvine Chamber provides a path to economic recovery. Strong communities are made up of resilient and innovative individuals and businesses – those that courageously continue to work to find solutions, especially during times of crisis. You can be confident knowing that the Greater Irvine Chamber is partnering with other organizations to sustain our community’s well-being.

May you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe. Let’s get back to business.

A version of this column originally ran in the Orange County Business Journal.