California officials on Monday said that all state employees and health care workers must submit proof of vaccination or they will be required to wear a mask at work and get tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
Officials said that state workers must submit their proof of vaccination by August 2, while health care workers have until August 23.
"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," said Governor Gavin Newsom. "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."
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 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.
WHAT ABOUT LOS ANGELES?
As of Monday night, Los Angeles city employees are not mandated to follow a rule similar to state workers. However, it appears the City of Los Angeles may soon put together a vaccine mandate similar to the one unveiled by Gov. Newsom.
Mayor Eric Garcetti's office issued the following statement:
"The Mayor has been working urgently with City stakeholders toward policy changes to increase the employee vaccination rate and make the workplace safer for everyone. He will be discussing this in more detail very soon."
A similar motion was just passed in the city of New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all city municipal workers would be required to get vaccinated or submit to weekly coronavirus tests.
Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.
CNS contributed to this report.