California will require state employees and health-care workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or be tested on a weekly basis if they fail to comply, state officials announced on Monday. Under the state's new "first-in-the-nation" standard, California hopes to increase its already high vaccination rate amid upticks in new infections and hospitalization rates.
While the state already requires employees to disclose whether or not they have been vaccinated in order to forego wearing masks indoors, California has not required personnel to produce documentation proving their immunization status. The new guidance will require that proof, and make sure employees are safe by making weekly testing mandatory for all those that fail to submit vaccination documentation.
"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 in a press statement. "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."
Starting Aug. 2, state employees will be required to submit documentation of their immunization, according to a press release. Testing of unvaccinated employees will be phased in over the coming weeks, the state government said, adding that unvaccinated personal will also be required to wear masks.
The new policy for health-care workers will take effect Aug. 9, with facilities having until Aug. 23 to come to full compliance. In state-run health-care facilities, unvaccinated employees will need to produce a negative coronavirus test at least two times per week. Health-care workers in outpatient settings will also be required to take a test once per week.
"California has administered more vaccines than any other state, with 75% of those eligible having gotten at least one dose, and we were weeks ahead of meeting President Biden's 70% goal. But we must do more to fight disinformation and encourage vaccine-hesitant communities and individuals," said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in a press statement. "The Delta variant is up to 60% more infection than the Alpha strain but many times more infectious that the original COVID-19 strain."
The state remains committed to keeping its economy open despite the spread of the Delta variant increasing hospitalization and death rates among unvaccinated populations.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of vaccines developed by Pfizer