San Diego County will begin to change its COVID-19 vaccine requirements next month, which will no longer require unvaccinated employees to test regularly for COVID-19 and stop vaccine requirements for non-healthcare hires.
According to a letter sent to county employees, the new rules will come into effect on April 4. This comes as the county continues to decline in daily COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Last August, the county implemented its vaccine requirement for employees. In October, county officials voted 3-2 in favor of requiring vaccination for new hires, with Supervisors Jim Desmond and Joel Anderson in opposition.
According to a San Diego County spokesperson, there are a little over 17,000 people that are employed by the county, including nearly 4,700 deputies.
The new rules follow updated data by the UC San Diego School of Medicine, which shows the number of cases based on wastewater samples taken from the Point Loma Pump station dropped 437 per 100,000 residents as of March 14.
Officials noted a significant drop in cases compared to 17,507 cases per 100,000 residents reported on Jan.8 at the peak of the Omicron surge. Experts have monitored wastewater since the summer of 2020 and predicted both the Delta and Omicron surges.
"The numbers for metrics are trending in the right direction, and we are in a much better place than we've been in many months," Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, said in the letter. "We'll continue to closely monitor virus activity in the region and take steps as needed to protect the public and our workforce."
The county continues to “strongly recommend” the vaccine for all employees.
“That includes the full series of vaccinations, additional vaccines if moderately or severely immunosuppressed, and booster,” the county’s letter reads.