Nurse Eon Walk delivers the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine clinic hosted by Mothers in Action and operated by the Los Angeles County of Public Health on July 16, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
California will require government employees and some health care workers to provide evidence of Covid-19 or undergo mandatory weekly tests, senior state officials said Monday.
The program will require proof of vaccination from all state employees starting Aug. 2, state health officials said. All civil servants who remain unvaccinated by this date must present a negative Covid test at least once a week.
In government health care facilities, employees who work in a hospital are required to have a Covid vaccine or show negative Covid tests twice a week. Unvaccinated people are advised to wear N95 masks while working. Medical staff in outpatient facilities such as dental practices also have to do a Covid test once a week.
“We are at a point in this epidemic of this pandemic where the decision not to be vaccinated is now profound, devastating and deadly for the rest of us,” said Governor Gavin Newsom when announcing the new order. “This election has led to an increase in the number of cases, growing concerns about rising mortality rates and apparently induced hospitalizations.”
While the state already requires employees to disclose whether they have been vaccinated if they do not wish to wear masks indoors, they do not need to provide proof of vaccination. The new guidelines require proof of vaccination for all civil servants and mandatory tests for those who do not provide proof.
“Our projections are sobering,” said Newsom, noting that state officials are forecasting a “significant increase in hospital admissions” over the next few weeks that will put pressure on local hospitals.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently introduced similar guidelines for city and health workers, NBC New York reported. All employees who fail to provide proof of vaccination by September 13 are required to have a weekly coronavirus test, and all unvaccinated employees must wear a mask at work starting August 2.
California saw vaccination rates rise 16% last week as the Delta variant quickly spread across the state. It now makes up about 80% of all newly sequenced cases, health officials said.
Los Angeles County recently redesigned its indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.
When asked about a statewide mask mandate, Newsom said the majority of Californians live in jurisdictions that either mandate or encourage the use of masks. “Our focus is on vaccinations, so there won’t be a need.” he said.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs also announced Monday that Covid vaccinations are required for all health care workers who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities.
“VA is taking this necessary step to protect the veterans it serves,” the agency wrote on its website. It is the first federal agency to mandate vaccinations and give employees eight weeks to get their vaccinations.