California will soon require its state employees and all health care workers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or to get tested for the coronavirus weekly.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the new policy for state workers will take effect on Aug. 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 Aug. 9, and health care facilities will have until Aug. 23 to come into full compliance.
The governor is also encouraging all local governments and other employers in the state to adopt a similar protocol.
“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 Newsom. “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. Vaccines are safe – they protect our family, those who truly can’t get vaccinated, our children, and our economy. Vaccines are the way we end this pandemic.”
The Associated Press reports that the state of California has at least 238,000 employees. That doesn’t include teachers though, a group being focused on as students return to classrooms this fall.
The governor’s office says about 75% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and around 62% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, but officials say it’s not enough.
Like others, health officials in the nation’s most populous state are worried about the impact of the delta variant, a strain of the coronavirus that has shown to be more transmissible. It’s now the most common strain in the U.S. and it represents an estimated 80% of infections in California.
Earlier this month, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that about 97% of people being hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
California’s announcement comes just hours after New York City revealed a similar policy for its municipal workers. Mayor Bill de Blasio said city workers in the nation’s most populated city will be required to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 13 or get a weekly coronavirus test.