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California Will Require Health Care Workers And State Employees To Provide Vaccination Proof

Five people in masks ride an ascending escalator, with a stone wall made up of large rectangular pieces behind them.
A troubling rise in COVID-19 cases have officials putting new rules in place for state employees and health care workers as L.A. County continues an indoor mask mandate.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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California will ask state employees to prove they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Aug. 2. Those not vaccinated will have a mandatory testing protocol.

Health care workers, including in private hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices, will also need to prove their vaccination status — that means providing a CDC card or QR code. Simply giving their word — known as "self-attestation" — will not be accepted.

Health care workers in an acute care setting like a hospital must be tested twice a week, if they have haven't shown proof of vaccination. They must also wear an N-95 mask around patients.

This requirement also applies to high-risk congregate settings like adult and senior residential facilities, homeless shelters and jails.

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The new policy was announced Monday morning by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In outpatient settings such as dentist offices, anyone who hasn't shown proof of vaccination must be tested for the coronavirus at least once a week and wear a surgical mask. State officials said those requirements should be in place by Aug. 9 and full compliance will be required as of Aug. 23.

"It's good, it's a step in the right direction. This should have happened some time ago," said Dr. Eric Topol, a physician-scientist, and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in La Jolla.

But he doesn't think weekly testing is enough.

"They should all be vaccinated, and if they are not, they should wear a mask and be tested much more frequently, like every couple of days," he said. "Weekly testing isn't going to be enough to keep these people from not infecting others, or themselves."

Topol said the move will help encourage more health workers to get vaccinated.

"People that have to wear masks and very frequent testing, they aren't going to do that for long, they are going to get vaccinated. Or they are not going to wind up working in the health care environment for too long," he said.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services Secretary, said that while 75% of eligible Californians have had at lease one dose of the vaccine, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant is alarming.

"As a state, over the weekend, we saw on average of up to 7,500 cases reported per day, a seven day average is now about 6,400 per day. That gives us a case rate of 9.6 cases per 100,000," he said. "In perspective, on May 15, we were at 1.9 per 100,000."

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