Following two weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases, San Diego County must now abide by new restrictions under California’s purple tier in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. As of Nov. 22, San Diego County has averaged 1,004 new cases per day, which equate to 12.1 cases per 100,000 residents.
Under purple-tier restrictions, indoor operations like restaurants, gyms, places of worship, and areas of entertainment must close until the county moves back to the red tier. Shopping malls may remain open at 25-percent building capacity with no food courts open. Public schools may continue in-person or hybrid learning if they were doing so prior to the purple-tier designation. Only essential services like groceries and healthcare facilities will be allowed to remain open. Furthermore, a temporary month-long curfew has been placed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting on Nov. 21, which prohibits residents from gathering in other households between these hours.
In light of the purple tier restrictions, UC San Diego has shifted all classes to remote-learning for the remainder of Fall Quarter 2020 in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. All UCSD students living on campus are required to wear face masks indoors — attending class, working, purchasing essential goods, and in apartments and suites — except when they are in their own dorms and showers. Masks must be worn outdoors except when one is doing strenuous physical activity and is at least six feet away from others.
Moreover, socially distanced gatherings around campus are limited to three people, instead of the previous five. Students living on campus will be tested weekly instead of biweekly at no cost. For students that leave campus and engage in any unmasked activities, they will need to be sequestered for 14 days and tested on the first, fifth, and tenth days from their initial return.
“As a first year, it’s been hard getting to know people on campus and creating relationships with professors and classmates,” Eleanor Roosevelt College freshman Kate Merritt said to The UCSD Guardian. “Luckily, UCSD is a very outdoor-friendly campus and there are a lot of safe ways to hang out with roommates, like socially distanced picnics, hikes and trips to the beach.”
Nov. 21 marks the 11th consecutive day of more than 600 new COVID-19 cases daily. The county reported a 4.7 percent positivity rate on Nov. 20, compared to UCSD’s 0.2 percent. As of Nov. 21, San Diego County has had 70,709 total cases since the start of the pandemic. Of these cases, 6.2 percent have required hospitalization, and 1.4 percent required admittance to the intensive care unit.
“These totals show [that] people are not following the public-health recommendations that we know work to prevent getting and passing COVID-19,” Public Health Officer for San Diego County, Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, said to ABC10. “[People] need to follow public health guidance throughout the upcoming holiday season.”
Although San Diego County is implementing stricter policies, some students feel the county isn’t being strict enough. The high numbers and hospitalizations leave some students worried about the direction the county is going in. Despite this, many students are pleased with the measures UCSD has taken to slow the spread.
“[I am] concerned that the current plan for the county is not working and needs to be stricter … possibly a four-to-six-week shutdown with paid leave funded by the federal government, similar to Italy’s past plan,” Sixth College senior Kyle Clark said to The UCSD Guardian. “UCSD is doing a good job with limiting visitors to campus and doing regular testing, contact tracing, and one person per room.”
While many originally believed that young adults were not in serious danger of COVID-19, it is clear that that is no longer the case. Researchers from the American Medical Association have found that of the 3,222 young adults admitted to US hospitals for COVID-19 in the second half of spring 2020, 21 percent required intensive care and 2.7 percent died.
The World Health Organization has further noted that long-term implications for individuals that recover from the virus include decreased concentration, weakened immune systems, muscle pain, and intermittent fevers. In a telephone survey of young adults aged 18-34, WHO reported that 20 percent noticed that their COVID-19 symptoms were prolonged.
“If everyone gives up and doesn’t try to stop the spread, the rules placed on us will never be lifted and people will keep dying,” Clark said. “It’s even proven that risk of severe complications for our age group is not as low as people think … we need to do our part to protect others and ourselves.”
With the rise in COVID-19 cases around the country, many people have decided not to travel home for Thanksgiving. In order to help connect friends and family through the holiday, the video-conferencing platform, Zoom, announced that all users will be able to have free calls without a time limit from 12 a.m. on Thanksgiving day to 6 a.m. on Black Friday.
As San Diego transitions into the purple tier, state and local health officials are urging residents to follow COVID-19 guidelines to limit the spread of the disease. If you would like to learn more about the county’s reports and further guidance, please refer to their coronavirus website.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.