California will require all state employees and health care workers to provide proof of vaccination status or get regular testing amid a surge of cases from the highly contagious Delta variant, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced at a press conference Monday.
All employees will be required to prove they have received the vaccine by showing their vaccination cards or through a verification code provided by the California Department of Public Health.
Unvaccinated state employees will be required to get tested at least once a week and will be required to wear N95 masks at all times. Unvaccinated health care workers will have to get tested at least twice a week, health officials said.
“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,” Newsom said in a 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. 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.”
In a teleconference, California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said there is a seven-fold difference in case rates between the unvaccinated and vaccinated population. The case rate is now at 14 per 100,000 unvaccinated residents, compared to two cases per 100,000 vaccinated residents.
The new policy, which the state is touting as a first-in-the-nation standard, will take effect on August 2, while the policy covering health care workers will take effect on August 9. Ghaly said he expects full compliance by August 23.
Half of the state’s population is now under mask mandates and recommendations regardless of vaccination status. The statewide positivity rate has risen from 0.7% last month before the state fully reopened its economy to 5.3% on Sunday.
At his press conference, Newsom specifically called out conservative figures whom he said have shared misinformation undermining the vaccine.
“We are exhausted, respectfully exhausted by the ideological prism that too many Americans are living under,” said Newsom. “We are exhausted by the Ron Johnsons, and the Tucker Carlsons. We are exhausted by the Marjorie Taylor Greenes. We are exhausted by the right-wing echo chamber that has been perpetuating misinformation around the vaccine and its efficacy and safety. We are exhausted by the politicization of this pandemic.”