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Regional Interests

California to Require All Health Workers Be Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 by End of September

This story will be updated.

California will require all of its roughly 2.2 million health care and long-term care workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last month said he would require health care workers to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

But the new order, issued Thursday by the California Department of Public Health, takes away that choice, instead mandating all health care worker be fully vaccinated by the end of next month.

Newsom tweeted about the new rule on Thursday, but has not said why he decided to change it. The order references the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, which is known to be about twice as transmissible as the original strain, and can “cause more severe illness,” particularly among the unvaccinated.

California is averaging 18.3 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people a day, with the delta variant causing most of the new infections, the state reported. About 63% of Californians 12 and older have been fully vaccinated. Another 10% have been partially vaccinated.

“Increasing numbers of health care workers are among the new positive cases, despite vaccinations being prioritized for this group when vaccines initially became available,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California’s public health officer.

The order applies to workers in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and in most other health care settings. A second public health order directs facilities to verify that visitors are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the last 72 hours before indoor visits.

The department said that since January, the most common settings for virus outbreaks were in residential care facilities.

“As we continue to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, it’s important that we protect the vulnerable patients in these settings,” Aragón said. “Today’s action will also ensure that health care workers themselves are protected. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic.”

Copyright 2021 KQED