Garcetti Announces Los Angeles Is Requiring Vaccines Or Weekly Testing For All City Workers; Pursuing Full Mandate

Mayor of Los Angeles

With the coronavirus surging again, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Nury Martinez announced Tuesday evening that all city employees will be required to show proof of Covid vaccination or weekly negative Covid tests.

The announcement came one day after City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he plans to introduce a motion Wednesday to require vaccinations for city employees.

“The fourth wave is here, and the choice for Angelenos couldn’t be clearer — get vaccinated or get Covid-19,” Garcetti said Tuesday. “This urgent need means that if you’re a city employee, we’re now going to require you to either show that you’re vaccinated or take a weekly test.”

The policy, similar to the state’s policy, falls short of a vaccine mandate, offering employees the option of undergoing regular Covid testing instead of providing proof of vaccination. However, Garcetti said he and Martinez are “committed to pursuing a full vaccine mandate.” Garcetti says he expects to have vaccination verifications from city department managers by August 15.

Martinez said, “I think it’s safe to say that we’re getting tired of putting our lives on hold to protect people who don’t want to protect themselves and get vaccinated.” Among L.A. County residents 12 and older, 61% are fully vaccinated. When county residents under 12 years old — who are not eligible for vaccines — are added in, the percentage of fully-vaccinated residents falls below 55%.

Asked about repercussions for employees who do not comply Garcetti said, “It’s not our goal to punish people, it’s to get them vaccinated.” He added, “If you’re positive you better go home. You’re not working.”

The state announced on Monday that all state employees and all workers at hospitals and health care facilities across California will be required to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination — while those who are unable or refuse to do so will have to be tested at least once a week.

The vaccine-verification program for state employees is expected to begin as early as next week. The system for health-care workers will be implemented over the coming weeks, with compliance expected by Aug. 23. It will apply to all health-care settings across the state — public and private.

He added that he hopes other cities and counties throughout California will enact similar policies, saying “it’s time we beat this pandemic.”

San Francisco, Long Beach and New York City have announced similar plans. California’s U.C. and Cal State systems have also announced that they will require students and staff returning to campus this fall to be vaccinated.

Part of the issue is the slowing pace of vaccinations. The mayor said the city is now administering just 600 vaccinations a day. At its peak, said Garcetti, L.A. did that in one hour.

And, said Garcetti, that’s happening as Covid case numbers skyrocket.

L.A. County on Tuesday reported 15 new deaths and 2,067 new cases of Covid. Case rates are increasing across all adult age groups with the highest case rate increases occurring in adults between the ages of 18 and 29 years old with a nine-fold increase, from 40 to 350 cases per 100,000 over the course of the past month. And case rates have increased 7.5-fold among 30-to-49 year-olds, from 33 to 247 cases per 100,000. The daily test positivity rate was 5.7%.

There were 825 people with Covid hospitalized on Tuesday. An increase in hospitalizations typically occurs two to three weeks after cases increase, and health officials are holding their collective breath to see if the recent rise is just an uptick or the beginning of a surge. Currently, 0.21% of positive cases are hospitalized; this is much lower than the 5.76% of cases hospitalized during the winter surge.

Garcetti and Martinez’ announcement Tuesday comes as the Los Angeles Police Department experiences an increase in positive cases and has one employee hospitalized in critical condition. In the last week, an additional 33 LAPD employees have tested positive for the virus, bringing the department’s total to 2,760, LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission on Tuesday. Last week, Moore reported an increase of 19 positive cases within the department. Garcetti said only about half of the city’s first responders are vaccinated.

Asked about a mandate like the one issued by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Garcetti said, “Nothing is off the table.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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