UCI News

UCI provides consultation services for Monarch Beach Resort coronavirus mitigation plan

University is in unique position to offer research-backed expertise to O.C. businesses

August 24, 2020
UCI provides consultation services for Monarch Beach Resort coronavirus mitigation plan
UCI public health and epidemiology experts will develop protocols to elevate Monarch Beach Resort’s existing StaySafe Program and produce a 45-minute training video for employees of the Dana Point locale. Courtesy of Monarch Beach Resort

Irvine, Calif., Aug. 24, 2020 – With the right practices and procedures, businesses that are reopening can reduce the threat of coronavirus infections, benefiting workers, patrons and everyone they come in contact with. However, companies seeking knowledgeable guidance on this have few options.

The University of California, Irvine, is now providing expert advice to Monarch Beach Resort. The project – to develop protocols that will elevate the resort’s existing StaySafe Program – kicked off at the beginning of August. Consultation agreements between UCI and other Orange County businesses are in the works.

UCI’s public health and epidemiology professionals are reviewing Monarch Beach Resort’s plans to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure for employees, guests and members, then will issue recommendations to inform the resort’s practices. In the process, UCI faculty will conduct a site visit and produce a 45-minute training video for Monarch Beach Resort personnel.

Epidemiology professor Karen Edwards, department of Public Health

“For Orange County to be able to reopen safely, it can’t just be public health experts saying we need to implement the kinds of policies and procedures that will keep everyone safe,” says Karen Edwards, professor and chair of epidemiology at UCI. Steve Zylius / UCI

“For Orange County to be able to reopen safely, it can’t just be public health experts saying we need to implement the kinds of policies and procedures that will keep everyone safe,” said Karen Edwards, professor and chair of epidemiology at UCI and the lead faculty member for the project. “Businesses have to want to do that too. And Monarch Beach Resort is demonstrating that many of them do.”

Monarch Beach Resort spans 175 acres on the coast of Dana Point and offers hotel accommodations, dining, golfing, spa and fitness services, a beach club and membership. Public areas for guests exist alongside back-of-house operational areas. The immense variety of spaces requires a detailed safety plan.

Advice on health and safety practices and training is likely to focus on hand hygiene, masking, staff workflows, self-monitoring and other virus mitigation techniques.

“At Monarch Beach Resort, it’s never enough for us to simply meet standards. Since reopening our doors on June 18, our safety protocols have exceeded guidelines, and our work with UCI is intended to further elevate our program, establishing Monarch Beach Resort as a hospitality industry safety leader,” said General Manager Markus Krebs. “In this way, we keep not only our guests and employees safe, but also the broader Orange County community. We value our partnership with UCI and the expertise it brings to our safety program.”’

Monarch Beach Resort paused services on March 19 after lockdown orders by the state. In May, it created the StaySafe Program, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols, state and local guidelines, and industry best practices. Ninety days after closing, the resort resumed operation, returning 500 employees to work.

This consultation agreement is the first of its kind between Monarch Beach Resort and UCI. The university is able to provide a service – with research-backed expertise – that can’t yet be found in the private sector. Other businesses have expressed interest in similar consultation arrangements, and UCI is currently firming up the details of those projects.

“As the only program in public health in Orange County, we have an obligation to assist our community,” Edwards said. “I think there’s a gap in this area for us to step up and offer these types of services. This has the potential to have a major positive impact.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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