Health officials in California have announced that all state employees and health care workers will have to show proof of vaccination as a condition for work. Those who can not show proof of vaccination will have to undergo weekly covid-19 testing and wear masks.
According to the Associated Press, the new mandate will affect approximately 246,000 state workers and 2 million health care workers in the state. Proof of vaccination will also be required in jails and homeless shelters, but it is unknown who will pay for the testing.
Newsom held a press conference in Oakland to announce the new mandates, stating in part, “an individual’s choice not to get vaccinated is now impacting the rest of us in a profound and devastating way.” Newsom also likened not being vaccinated to drunk driving, saying, “you don’t have a choice to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else’s lives at risk.”
University of California San Francisco professor, Dr. Monica Gandhi, said of the governor, “he’s really showing leadership to strengthen the case for vaccination, which the entire country is trying to make.” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, another UC San Francisco professor, stated, “what we need to do in order to keep the public safe is to make sure that we’re relying on more than just the honor system.”
ABC 7 reports the new regulation is set to take effect on August 2, and officials say they are “aiming for full compliance of state employees by August 23.” 75% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 62% have been fully vaccinated.
Officials say the Delta variant now makes up about 83% of covid cases in the state. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said, “bottom line, vaccines are the road through this even with the Delta variant spreading faster.” While cases have risen in recent weeks, they are still well below the winter peak.
California was the first state to shut down last year and did not fully reopen until June 15. However, Los Angeles County recently reinstated its indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status and six counties in the Bay Area have begun strongly recommending masks indoors.
The new state employee and health care industry mandates come alongside the announcement of more than 500 San Francisco bars announcing they will require proof of vaccination or a negative test result to drink or dine inside their establishments.
According to the SF Gate, each bar will decide how to enforce the policy. Patrons without proof of vaccination or negative test will still be allowed to sit outside but will not be allowed inside at all. The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance said, “this decision is based solely on our need to protect our workers, customers, and their families, however, we hope it might also influence some who have not yet received vaccinations to do so as soon as they are able.”
While California officials and business owners continue to demand vaccination compliance, the state still battles with spikes in crime, homelessness, and overdose deaths that far outpace covid-19 deaths.
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