Gov. Gavin Newsom announces the requirement that state employees and all health care workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 during a July 2021 press conference.
Written by Breanna Hardy
The California Department of Human Resources, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Health and Human Services Agency announced Monday that state employees and all health care workers employed publicly or privately will be required to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccination or be tested on a weekly basis.
The deadline for compliance is Aug. 23. There are at least 238,000 state employees, according to the California controller’s office, and at least 2 million health care workers in the public and private sectors.
This comes as the federal Department of Veterans Affairs will require its health care workers to be vaccinated as well. This is the first federal move toward vaccination requirements. California is the first state to mandate a vaccine verification system.
Newsome rebuked the spread of vaccine misinformation.
“We’re exhausted by the politicization of this pandemic,” he said.
The press conference with Newsom was hosted at Kaiser Permanente headquarters in Oakland. It comes as the so-called delta variant of the coronavirus drives up infection rates while vaccination rates stagnate.
“Our projections are sobering,” Newsom said if the same path of vaccination plateau continues.
About 75% of people in the state have been vaccinated with at least one dose. In contrast to that, about 80% of the positive cases tested on the state level are positive for the delta variant. However, it’s unclear how many positive tests are tested for the delta variant, which is more contagious than past variants.
The California Department of Human Resources stated that these new requirements are to ensure continuity of government and to protect the workforce. In hospital settings it will protect employees and patients in the midst of increasing case numbers.
Previously, state employees could self attest to being vaccinated and could then choose not to wear a mask. Now if workers choose not to use verification, they will be required to wear masks and be tested weekly.
In the hospital setting, the Department of Health and Human Services said unvaccinated employees will be subject to testing twice weekly, and outpatient services will test once weekly.
Saint Agnes Medical Center was the first health system in the area to require vaccinations for all employees or face termination.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.