A nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccination during a pop-up free clinic at the Museum of Art & History
EMT Lora Bate prepares a vaccination during a pop-up free clinic at the Museum of Art & History in downtown Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz )
Health & Wellness

Newsom: State and health care workers must show proof of vaccine, or get tested regularly

Starting next Monday, all 246,000 state employees plus all of California’s public and private health care workers must show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or be subject to weekly coronavirus testing.

California moved one step closer Monday to a vaccination mandate, with Gov. Gavin Newsom announcing a requirement that all state government and health care workers show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or be subject to weekly testing.

Newsom encouraged all local government workers and other employers to follow suit.

“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.”

There are roughly 246,000 state employees, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The mandate also applies to workers in “high-risk congregate settings” such as prisons or senior care facilities.

When the additional requirements are in place, state employees who are unvaccinated, or decline to provide proof of vaccination, will be tested for coronavirus infection at least once a week, according to the California Department of Human Resources.

“Unvaccinated employees will continue to be required to wear a mask indoors until they are vaccinated,” the department added in a statement.

The new policy will begin on Aug. 2 — next Monday — and will take full effect for congregate and health care workers on Aug. 9. Health care facilities will have until Aug. 23 to be in full compliance.

Approximately 75% of the eligible California population has received at least one dose. In Santa Cruz County, 64% of the total population — a figure that includes children under 12, who are not yet eligible for a vaccine — has received at least one dose, per county health data, and 56% are fully vaccinated.

As of Friday, fewer than a dozen Delta variant cases had been confirmed in Santa Cruz County. Last week, county health officer Gail Newel urged all residents to get vaccinated and recommended all persons to begin wearing masks indoors and at crowded outdoor events again.

“We are going to comply,” Santa Cruz County communications manager Jason Hoppin said.

Hoppin said he hasn’t heard anything from specific from local governments or municipalities yet, but he expects county health care workers will be able to be in compliance by the deadline next month.

“It shouldn’t be too hard to operationalize this,” he said.

The City of Santa Cruz was also looking ahead.

“We will be reviewing the Governor’s decision this week and will seek employee input before a change in our protocols are made,” city communications manager Elizabeth Smith said via email.

Smith said of the employees who have reported their vaccine status to the city approximately 62% are vaccinated.