All state employees and all workers at hospitals and health care facilities across California will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination under a state policy announced Monday, and 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.
The policy falls short of a vaccine “mandate,” offering employees the option of undergoing regular COVID testing instead of providing proof of vaccination. Those workers will be required to undergo testing at least once a week, possibly even twice a week.
The policy, announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom, comes in response to rising COVID-19 infection numbers and hospitalizations statewide. According to state officials, there were nearly 3,000 people hospitalized due to COVID as of Monday, up from about 900 on May 15. The average daily rate of new cases is now at 9.6 per 100,000 people, up from 1.9 per 100,000 on May 15.
State officials noted that the daily infection rate among unvaccinated residents is believed to be more than 14 per 100,000, compared to about 2 per 100,000 among the vaccinated population. That equates to unvaccinated residents being infected at roughly seven times the rate of vaccinated people.
In announcing the policy, state officials urged private employers in California to consider implementing similar systems of verifying vaccination and requiring testing for unvaccinated workers. Current workplace rules in the state only require employers to verify workers’ vaccination status if they want to remove face masks in indoor workplaces. Unvaccinated workers must wear masks indoors.
State officials said private employers have the legal authority, if they choose, to require workers to be vaccinated.