The State of California has taken decisive action to combat the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable communities – implementing one of the first-in-the-nation standards to require all state workers and workers in healthcare and high-risk congregate settings to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week and encourage all local government and other employers to adopt a similar protocol.
“We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “As the state’s largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same. Vaccines are safe – they protect our family, those who truly can’t get vaccinated, our children and our economy. Vaccines are the way we end this pandemic.”
California will also be requiring healthcare settings to verify that workers are fully vaccinated or tested regularly. Unvaccinated workers will be subject to at least weekly COVID-19 testing and will be required to wear appropriate PPE. This requirement also applies to high-risk congregate settings like adult and senior residential facilities, homeless shelters and jails. These steps will help protect vulnerable patients and residents.
The new policy for state workers took effect August 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks. The new policy for healthcare workers and congregate facilities will take effect on August 9, and health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.
Despite California leading the nation in vaccinations, with more than 44 million doses administered and 75 percent of the eligible population having received at least one dose, the state is seeing increasing numbers of people who refused to get the vaccine being admitted to the ICU and dying. This increase is heavily due to the Delta variant, which is more contagious and kills people faster.
The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, with 600 percent higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated.
In addition to these new measures, the state continues its efforts to vaccinate Californians. Last week, California surpassed 2 million newly vaccinated individuals since launching its incentive program, Vax for the Win. The program increased HPI Q1 vaccinations, and increased doses administered to the Latinx population by 10 percent. It also successfully slowed the rate of decline that California was experiencing in vaccination rates. The program’s peak showed a 33 percent increase in vaccinations, “outpacing the inoculation trends in much of the country,” including more recently a 4.4 percent increase for the week ending July 14 – a promising sign in California, as vaccination rates declined nationwide.