SDSU To Move All Classes Online After 64 Students Test Positive for COVID-19
San Diego State University has reported 64 student COVID-19 infections since the semester began last week, leading the university Wednesday to immediately move all in-person classes to an online format for the next four weeks.
While the majority of those are unrelated cases, a few are related to "off-campus, non-educational" activities, said Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's director of epidemiology. Close contacts of all the students, including roommates and family members, have been notified.
"This is expected," McDonald said of students from many different backgrounds coming together in one place. "We do expect more cases. There have been no hospitalizations yet, but the vast majority have had symptoms. Young people are less likely to suffer symptoms, but this is not the cold or flu. This is a very serious illness."
Luke Wood, SDSU's vice president for student affairs and campus diversity, said all 200 in-person classes — mostly lab work classes — would move online, and all students who have moved into campus housing would be able to move out if they so choose.
"Our students are welcome to stay," he said. "And students who wish to move out can do so. However, if at any point they return, they will be placed under quarantine for two weeks."
SDSU has more than 130 spaces for students to safely quarantine. Students can contact the Office of Housing Administration to discuss leaving campus housing.
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Additionally, SDSU athletics will be placed on a two-week pause due to COVID-19 effective Thursday.
San Diego County health officials reported 250 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths Wednesday, raising the region's totals to 39,121 cases and 695 deaths.
Of 7,606 tests reported Wednesday, 3% returned positive, bringing the county's 14-day rolling positive testing rate to 3.8%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,648.
Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,142 — or 8% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 760 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.
County health officials reported three new community outbreaks Wednesday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 18. Two of the outbreaks were in restaurant/bar settings and the third was in a private residence.
The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher cautioned residents to take the illness seriously over the coming holiday weekend, and to avoid house parties and other large gatherings.
"One of the most dangerous setting is an indoor setting," he said. "The actions we take moving forward will impact our trajectory going forward."
San Diego County schools were allowed to reopen for in-person teaching starting Tuesday.
Tuesday marked two weeks since San Diego County was removed from the state's COVID-19 watch list and marked nearly three weeks that the county's case rate remained under 100 cases per 100,000 people. Remaining below that metric has paved the way for K-12 schools to reopen for in-person teaching, but many districts are expected to take a cautious approach to reopening.
Schools that choose to reopen must follow state guidance, including mandatory face coverings for students in third grade through high school, increased cleaning and disinfecting practices and implementing a six-foot distance requirement, where possible, in classrooms and non-classroom spaces.
On Monday, San Diego County businesses including movie theaters, gyms, museums and hair and nail salons resumed indoor operations, with modifications, under newly issued state guidance. Restaurants, places of worship and movie theaters are only allowed up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums are also required not to exceed 25% occupancy.
Monday night, the county implemented a new policy that restaurant patrons sitting indoors must wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking. Outdoor patrons may still remove masks while not consuming food or beverages.
Gyms, dance studios, yoga studios and fitness centers may operate with 10% occupancy. Hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, piercing shops, skin care and cosmetology services and nail salons may operate indoors with normal capacity, but a new policy states they must keep an appointment book with names and contact information for customers to track potential future outbreaks.
San Diego County's state-calculated daily case rate per 100,000 people is 5.8 and the testing positivity percentage — which runs on a time lag — is 3.8%. These numbers are elevated enough to keep the county in the "red" or second tier of the state's reopening plan.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said the county would follow state guidelines that retail businesses are to be restricted to 50% occupancy.
All indoor businesses must still abide by social-distancing and face-covering mandates, as well as having a detailed safe reopening plan on file with the county.