Chancellor's Message: COVID-19 update 12/8/2020

December 8, 2020 | Constance M. Carroll - Chancellor, San Diego Community College District

I hope my message finds everyone safe and well. This is a season of reversals. Progress in addressing the coronavirus COVID-19 has been intermittent, followed by sharp shifts due to dramatic surges in cases of infection, as well as enormous pressures on hospital capacity and a high rise in deaths. My message today will provide information about the State’s new restrictions and also about plans in the San Diego Community College District.


For the reasons above, Governor Gavin Newsom held a news conference on December 3, in which he instituted new virus control restrictions for the State of California that are designed to flatten the curve of its progression. Let me share with you the full content of the governor’s message.

California COVID-19 Update: December 3, 2020

Watch: Gov. Gavin Newsom issues COVID-19
stay-at-home order on Dec. 3, 2020

In essence, the governor announced that a Regional Stay at Home Order would be triggered if Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity dropped below 15 percent in a given region. State health officials have been tracking the state by five regions: Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California. Southern California has since dropped below 15 percent and the Stay at Home Order took effect this week, on Monday, December 7. Residents are now required to stay at home as much as possible and minimize mixing in order to reduce unnecessary exposure to the virus.  Residents are still able to do important things like go to the doctor, buy groceries, pick up take-out food, go on a hike, or worship outdoors. K-12 schools that were already open can remain open and retailers can operate indoors at no more than 20 percent capacity in order to reduce exposure risk. Under the current Stay at Home Order, all bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons, and other “non-essential services” will be required to temporarily close.

Governor Newsom said that regions will remain in the Regional Stay at Home Order status for at least three weeks once triggered. Counties are eligible to come off the Regional Stay at Home Order after three weeks if their hospital ICU capacity projected four weeks out reaches 15 percent. Counties will return to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier determined by their case rate and test positivity after they are eligible to exit the Regional Stay at Home Order.

Newsom said that the effects of Thanksgiving travel and celebrations still haven't been felt and that residents should expect a "surge on top of a surge” within just a few weeks.

“We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,” said Governor Newsom. “By invoking a Stay at Home Order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent, we can flatten the curve as we’ve done before and reduce stress on our health care system. I’m clear-eyed that this is hard on all of us — especially our small businesses who are struggling to get by. That’s why we leaned in to help our small business owners with new grants and tax relief to help us get through this month. If we stay home as much as possible, and wear masks when we have to go to the doctor, shop for groceries or go for a hike, California can come out of this in a way that saves lives and puts us on a path toward economic recovery.”

What does the Regional Stay at Home Order do? 

The Regional Stay at Home Order is in effect for 3 weeks after the trigger and instructs Californians to stay at home as much as possible to limit the mixing with other people that can lead to COVID-19 spread. It allows access to (including travel for) critical services and allows outdoor activities to preserve Californians’ physical and mental health. This limited closure will help stop the surge and prevent overwhelming regional ICU capacity.

In any region that triggers a Regional Stay at Home Order because it drops below 15 percent ICU capacity, all operations in the following sectors must be closed:

- Indoor and Outdoor Playgrounds
- Indoor Recreational Facilities
- Hair Salons and Barbershops
- Personal Care Services (nail salons, tattoo, tanning, etc.)
- Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums
- Movie Theaters
- Wineries
- Bars, Breweries and Distilleries
- Family Entertainment Centers
- Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering
- Limited Services (auto repair shops, carwashes, pet grooming, etc.)
- Live Audience Sports
- Amusement Parks

The following sectors will have additional modifications in addition to 100 percent masking and physical distancing:

- Outdoor Recreational Facilities: Allow outdoor operation only without any food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.
- Retail: Allow indoor operation at 20 percent capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores.  Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
- Shopping Centers: Allow indoor operation at 20 percent capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
- Hotels and Lodging: Allow to open for critical infrastructure support only and necessary travel.
- Restaurants: Allow only for take-out or pick-up.
- Offices: Allow remote work only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.
- Places of Worship: Allow outdoor services only.

Entertainment Production including Professional Sports: Allow operation without live audiences. Additionally, testing protocol and “bubbles” are highly encouraged.

The Order does not modify existing state guidance regarding K-12 schools.

The following sectors are allowed to remain open when a remote option is not possible with appropriate infectious disease preventative measures including 100 percent masking and physical distancing:

- Critical Infrastructure
- Non-urgent medical and dental care
- Child care and pre-K

When does a Regional Stay at Home Order end? 
The Regional Stay at Home Order is implemented regionally once there is less than 15 percent ICU capacity remaining in the designated region. After three weeks from the start of the Stay-at-Home Order, the following criteria would apply:

End for a county in a region if the region’s ICU capacity projected out four weeks (from three weeks since the Stay-at-Home Order started) is above or equal to 15 percent. Each county in the region would be assigned to a tier based on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Remain in effect in a county if the region’s ICU capacity projected out four weeks (from three weeks since the Stay-at-Home Order started) is less than 15 percent. The order would remain in effect until the region’s ICU capacity meets criteria (1) above. This would be assessed on a weekly basis.

Non-Essential Travel Lodging
Except as otherwise required by law, no hotel or lodging entity in California shall accept or honor out of state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired.

Can people go outside?
Members of the same household are encouraged to maintain physical and mental health by safely going to a park, hike, walk or bike ride when safe to do so and socially distanced. Californians are also encouraged to keep connected with loved ones virtually.

The Regional Stay at Home Order can be found here.


The Southern California intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity has dropped below 15%, and the state will require San Diego County to implement a Regional Stay Home Order that prohibits gatherings of any size and closes operations in multiple sectors, including restaurants, bars, wineries, and personal services.

The current ICU capacity for the Southern California region, which includes San Diego and 10 other counties, is now 12.5%. The order will go into effect Monday and will last for at least three weeks or until the region’s ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. The order will be assessed by the state on a weekly basis after the three-week period.

Among restrictions that go beyond the current Purple Tier that already apply to San Diego:

- No gatherings of any size
- Restaurants open for take-out, delivery or drive-through only. No on-site dining
- Indoor operations limited to 20% capacity
- Hotels and lodging: Open only for critical infrastructure support

The following will be closed from operating in any form, indoors or outdoors:

- Indoor or outdoor playgrounds
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Personal care services, including nail salons
- Museums, zoos and aquariums
- Movie theaters
- Wineries
- Cardrooms and satellite wagering
- Overnight stays at campgrounds

Essential businesses such as supermarkets, grocery stores, laundromats, and pharmacies will remain open.

Parks, beaches, and hiking and bike trails remain open. Other outdoor activities are also permitted but a face mask and social distancing is required.

Record Number of COVID-19 Cases Reported

A total of 2,287 COVID-19 confirmed cases were reported December 4, surpassing the record 2,039 cases reported the previous day. The region’s total is now 90,468.

San Diegans with COVID-19 symptoms and those who traveled or attended Thanksgiving gatherings are urged to get tested immediately to prevent from spreading the virus to others.

The county operates more than 50 testing sites throughout the region. All COVID-19 tests are free and most of the sites do not require an appointment.

For more information on testing, visit or call 2-1-1.

Community Setting Outbreaks:

- 15 new community outbreaks were confirmed on December 4: six in business settings, three in daycare/preschool/childcare settings, one in a restaurant/bar setting, one in a fitness/gym setting, one in a hotel/resort/spa, one in a government setting, one in a health care setting, and one in a distribution warehouse setting. In the past seven days (November 28 through December 4), 92 community outbreaks were confirmed.

- The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

- A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.


- 24,159 tests were reported to the County on Dec. 4, and the percentage of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 9%.

- The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 7%. Target is less than 8.0%.

- The 7-day, daily average of tests is 20,299.

- People with and without symptoms who are at higher risk for COVID-19 should be tested. Health care and essential workers should also get a test, as well as people who have had close contact to a positive case or live in communities that are being highly impacted. Those recently returned from travel, or who participated in holiday gatherings, are also urged to get tested.


- 4,836 or 5.3% of all cases have required hospitalization.

- 1,065 or 1.2% of all cases and 22% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

- A COVID-19 case rate map shows how local cities and communities are being impacted by the virus.


- Eight new deaths were reported to the County on December 4. The region’s total is now 1,055 deaths.

- Six men and one woman died between November 16 and December 4, and their ages ranged from early 50s to early 90s.

- All had underlying medical conditions.

More Information:

The more detailed data summaries found on the County’s website are updated around 5 p.m. daily.


As has been reported before, classes at City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and Continuing Education will remain online for the coming intersession and for the spring semester. A few hybrid exceptions have been made, as in the current fall semester, for classes that require on-campus components, such as science and clinical labs, some career technical program labs, and courses for first responders, especially in the Police and Fire Academies. No decision has as yet been made regarding summer classes, although the tilt is toward online with hybrid components as well.

In the meantime, COVID-19 cases are being tracked on a weekly basis. The present records show the following:

People at the SDCCD who have been exposed to COVID 19


As you know, the Colleges, Continuing Education, and the District offer four opportunities for students to pursue their studies: fall semester, intersession, spring semester, and summer session. This allows students to complete their programs from the previous semester, especially in cases where they may need additional lab work or hands-on work in a hybrid mode. Although the overall instructional program has been reduced in funding, the intersession and summer sessions are offered as part of that reduced plan, not in addition to it. No decision has as yet been made regarding the modality for the summer session, although it increasingly looks as though it may need to be online with hybrid options. The Colleges and Continuing Education have been asked to develop their summer session plans based upon the previous summer session and also to be prepared to make further reductions if necessary. The COVID-19 crisis continues to affect absolutely everything we do.


Of great concern to all of us is the additional impact that the COVID-19 situation is having on athletic programs, which many students rely upon not only for their physical and leadership development but also for scholarships and transfer opportunities. As you recall, all sports throughout California (including City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges) were postponed to the spring semester. Our colleges have been making an enormous effort to keep our student-athletes engaged and to arrange for training opportunities where possible in the hope of offering athletics in the spring. However, the dramatic surge in the virus has made the continuation of sports in the first half of the spring semester not feasible since student and staff safety would be in jeopardy. We hope to be able to move forward with athletics in the second half of the spring semester, if at all possible, but this will depend upon the situation with COVID-19 at that time. The Presidents will provide more information about this situation and future plans for athletics.


City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and Continuing Education have just concluded their holiday celebrations, some with virtual programs and some with drive-through events. Unfortunately, the drive-through event that the District Office was planning to distribute holiday gifts to all District employees next week has been caught in the Stay at Home Order and will have to be postponed. We will, however, find a time for this celebration after the holidays when it is safe to do so.  I definitely do not want to miss the opportunity to thank everyone for their excellent work, and will watch closely for a window of opportunity for this purpose.  In addition, other drive-throughs or visits to the campuses for various charity initiatives may also need to be canceled or postponed in favor of different, non-personal formats for providing these benefits. The Presidents and Vice Chancellors will communicate regarding the status of these specific events in their areas. 


On Friday of this week, the Human Resources Department will send out a survey to all employees to see how things are going and to get feedback regarding policies, practices, and plans during our remote operations. Please take a moment to respond to the survey and to provide your thoughts about future needs and plans as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.


As always, let me close by thanking our faculty, administrators, and classified professionals for your hard work during this unprecedented time of crisis due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Our online classes have maintained high quality and the remote working format has enabled City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, Continuing Education, and the District to move forward in a successful manner. The Board of Trustees and I are grateful for your efforts and we are confident that we are meeting our two primary goals in ensuring: 1) the health and safety of our students and employees; and 2) the continuity of instruction and operations. Thank you for keeping us on this path.

Stay well!

Dr. Constance M. Carroll
Chancellor, San Diego Community College District

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