California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that all state employees will be required to either verify that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo testing once per week.
The rules will be enacted starting Aug. 2 and will be fully implemented by Aug. 23 for the 246,000 state employees.
Newsom also announced that many private sector employers – such as Kaiser Permanente – are enacting the same verification and testing policy.
“We’re at a point in this epidemic, this pandemic, where individuals’ choice not to get vaccinated is now impacting the rest of us in a profound and devastating and deadly way,” Newsom said. “That choice has led to an increase in case rates, growing concern about increase in death rates and self-evidently around hospitalization rates.”
With the rise of the Delta variant, hospitalizations throughout the state due to COVID-19 have risen. California totaled 1,071 hospitalizations at the beginning of the month. That number increased to 2,981 by Sunday.
“Our projections are sobering,” Newsom said. Our projections over the course of the next couple of weeks will show a significant increase in hospitalizations if we continue down this path.”
Over 21 million people – 62 percent of the state – have been fully vaccinated, and an additional 3.1 million people have received one dose of the two-dose vaccines.
Out of the population that is eligible to receive the vaccine, Newsom said that there is 25 percent left to reach.
He said that group is “vaccine hesitant” and blamed Republicans for the problem.
“We are exhausted, respectfully, exhausted by the ideological prism that too many Americans are living under. We’re exhausted by the Ron Johnsons and the Tucker Carlsons, we’re exhausted by the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, we’re exhausted by the right wing echo chamber that has been perpetuating misinformation around the vaccine and its efficacy and safety,” Newsom said.
“We’re exhausted by the politicization of this pandemic, and that includes mask wearing that has been equated to the Holocaust. It’s disgraceful, it’s unconscionable and it needs to be called out.”
Newsom compared the refusal to get vaccinated to drinking and driving.
“It’s a choice to live with this virus, and with all due respect, you don’t have a choice to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else’s lives at risk. That’s the equivalent of this moment with the deadliness and efficiency of the Delta Virus,” Newsom said.
“You’re putting other people’s innocent lives at risk. You’re putting businesses at risk. You’re putting at risk the ability to educate our kids by getting them back in person full time for in-person instruction.”