Health and Science

California is requiring proof of Covid vaccination for state employees, predicting significant rise in hospitalizations

Key Points
  • California will require state employees and some health-care workers to show proof of Covid-19 or face mandatory weekly testing.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom also said that projections by health experts include a "significant increase" in hospitalizations over the next few weeks "if we continue down this path."
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

California will require state employees and some health-care workers to show proof of Covid-19 or face mandatory weekly testing, top state officials said Monday.

State employees will be required to submit documentation of their immunization by Aug. 2, according to a press release. Any state employees who aren't vaccinated by then will be required to produce a negative Covid test at least once a week.

The new policy for health-care workers and congregate facilities takes effect Aug. 9, and health-care facilities will have to be in full compliance by Aug. 23, according to the release.

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In state health-care facilities, employees who work in a hospital setting will be required to show proof of a Covid vaccine or produce negative coronavirus tests two times a week. Those who remain unvaccinated are recommended to wear N95 masks during work. Health-care workers in outpatient settings like dental offices will also be required to take a Covid test once a week.

"We're at a point in this epidemic this pandemic where choice, individuals' choice not to get vaccinated, is now impacting the rest of us in a profound and devastating and deadly way," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in announcing the new order. "That choice has led to an increase in case rates, growing concern around increasing death rates and self evidently brought hospitalization rates."

While the state already requires employees to disclose whether they've been vaccinated if they don't want to wear masks indoors, they don't have to produce documentation proving they are immunized. The new guidelines will require proof of vaccination for all state employees and mandatory testing for those who fail to provide proof.

"Our projections are sobering," Newsom said, noting that state officials are forecasting a "significant increase in hospitalizations" over the next few weeks that will put pressure on local hospitals.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently introduced similar guidance for municipal employees and health-care workers, NBC New York reported. All personnel who fail to submit proof of vaccination by Sept. 13 must take a coronavirus test every week, and all unvaccinated employees must wear a mask at work beginning Aug. 2.

The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, which represents 500 bars in San Francisco, said it's encouraging members to require customers to show a negative Covid test within 72 hours or proof of vaccination starting July 29. The group also said that guests who refuse to follow these requirements are "welcome to sit outside." Individual bars will have the choice whether or not to enforce the requirements.

California saw an increase of 16% in vaccination rates over the last week as the delta variant rapidly spread across the state. It now accounts for roughly 80% of all newly sequenced cases in the state, health officials said.

Los Angeles County recently reimplemented its indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.

When asked about a statewide mask mandate, Newsom said that the majority of Californians live in jurisdictions that either require or encourage mask use, "our focus is on vaccinations so there will be no need." he said.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs also announced Monday that it is requiring Covid vaccinations for all health-care personnel who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities.

"VA is taking this necessary step to keep the Veterans it serves safe," the agency wrote on its website. It's the first federal agency to mandate vaccinations and is giving employees eight weeks to get their shots.