“With all due respect,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, “you don’t have a choice to go out and drink and drive. That’s the equivalent. You’re putting other people’s lives at risk. Your choice not to get vaccinated and to listen to these pundits…comes at a real societal cost. We need to be clear about that and we need to call that out.”
According to Newsom and the State Departments of Health and Human Services and Human Resources, California will soon require all state employees and health care workers — both public and private — to verify their vaccination status, either through a vaccine card or vaccine code, which is issued by the state. Officials stress the move is not a “mandate.”
For those who remain unvaccinated in hospitals, it will mean testing one to two times per week for those who are in areas where patient care and patient encounters. Healthcare providers who provide outpatient services, such as dental offices, will have to require once a week testing for unvaccinated employees.
The state’s 246,000 employees, who are currently under a self-attestation process for any of them who wants to remove their mask, will have to do the same. If they do not provide proof of vaccination, state employees will have to wear a mask in the office and submit to a regular testing regime.
State officials encouraged all employers to have such a system in pace so that they can verify who is vaccinated and who is not, implement masks and testing and avoid outbreaks. Three counties in the state last week issued guidance last week recommending employers do just that.
Newsom said state officials are “exhausted by the right-wing echo chamber spreading misinformation about the vaccine. Mask-wearing is equated to Holocaust. It’s unconscionable. It needs to be called out.” Specifically, Newsom called out Fox News’ star Tucker Carlson and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
It’s “the failure of too many who have megaphones spewing misinformation,” said Newsom while noting that many of those same people are getting vaccines themselves or working for companies that require safety measures — a list that includes Fox News.
“That’s a hell of a thing,” said Newsom. “It’s time we call that into question and call some of these people out. That’s the spirit that brings mere here today.”
The change is expected to begin taking place over the next couple weeks. The new policy for state workers will take effect August 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks. The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities will take effect on August 9, and health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.
The news comes as the Delta variant has driven the state’s 7-day average of new cases above 6,400. Over the past three days, the CA data dashboard indicates that average is 7,300. The average number of cases per 100,000 in the state — considered a good indicator of the rise and fall of infections — has gone from 1.9 per 100,000 on May 15 to an average of 11.2 per 100,000 on Monday. It’s thought that, among unvaccinated residents, the case rate thought to be above 14 per 100,000. Likewise, the 7-day average test positivity rate has gone from 0.7% on May 15 to 5.3% on Monday.
Covid-related hospitalizations in the state, a big concern when cases are rising, have gone from 900 on May 15 to 3,331 on Monday. The state added 200 new patients in last 30 hours, according to state sources. Fifty nine more patients were admitted to the ICU. In total, there are over 600 admitted across the sate
The goal is to prepare for the number of hospitalizations and deaths to increase among the unvaccinated population. “Our projections are sobering,” said Newsom on Monday as he announced the requirement.
Just this morning, more than 30 national healthcare organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Nursing, the Association of American Medical Colleges, National Hispanic Medical Association, the National Pharmaceutical Association and the Society of Hospital Medicine signed a letter calling for mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that employers could require workers to be vaccinated against Covid as long as they did not violate the Americans with Disabilities and the Civil Rights acts.
As of mid-July, nearly every state had bills introduced seeking to ban vaccination as a requirement of employment. Nine have actually passed such legislation and five of those bills have been signed by the respective states’ governors.