California, and SMCCD, Update Testing Guidelines

Changes to vaccination requirements made as hospitalization rates drop

74% of Californians are fully vaccinated, and the vaccine is widely available

Joshua D Picazo

74% of Californians are fully vaccinated, and the vaccine is widely available

The California Department of Public Health changed guidelines beginning on Saturday, September 17th, 2022, stating that there would no longer be mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated students and employees.

“Weekly testing of unvaccinated groups is no longer slowing the spread as it did earlier in the pandemic due to the more infectious Omicron variants,” the press release stated.

Instead, the CDPH highly recommends that all people eligible for vaccination get their primary shots and the newer Omicoron booster to protect against a variant that has been spreading quicker than the earlier variant.

California has often been seen as having some of the stricter COVID-19 measures. However, with the lifting of the mask mandates followed by the dropping of the testing mandate, it appears that few restrictions are now in place. Instead, the public is encouraged to wear masks and get vaccinated.

Experts and healthcare professionals at Skyline College agreed with the updated guidelines, saying they are appropriate given what has been learned about the hospitalization rates.

“I agree with the CDPH and do believe it is a sound and correct response. As we move out of this pandemic, we will see our policies shift, and that is a good sign,” says Emily Risk, a registered nurse at Skyline College.

She, like the CDPH, still stressed the importance of wearing masks, staying home when students and staff feel sick, and getting vaccinated.

The reason for loosening testing because of the surge in Omicoron is due to how it spreads. “One of the key factors [is] that even with new variants that are coming about, hospitalizations and severe disease continue to be low. That is a key metric that tells us how well the disease is being managed,” Raymond Hernandez, the SMCCCD COVID-19 health officer and a professor of respiratory care at Skyline College, said.

California COVID-19 hospitalization rates dropped dramatically from mid-July which saw a peak of 31.9 hospitalizations of unvaccinated residents per million hospitalizations of unvaccinated residents to 18.2 in late August.   The state also has the 5th lowest hospitalization rates overall in the country, according to The New York Times Coronavirus tracker.

As the state and district continue to learn more about ever-changing infection rates, residents should expect guidelines to change.