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California is requiring proof of Covid vaccination for state employees

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Nurse Eon Walk administers the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine clinic hosted by Mothers in Action and operated by the Los Angeles County of Public Health on July 16, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

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.

The program will require evidence of vaccination from all state employees beginning Aug. 2, state health officials said. Any state employees who remain unvaccinated by that date will be required to produce a negative Covid test at least once a week.

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 Covid 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 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.

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, 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 healthcare 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.

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