California Mandates Vaccinations or Testing for Health Care Employees and State Workers
On July 26, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California state workers, workers in health care, and workers in high-risk congregate setting will be required to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination or undergo weekly testing and wear appropriate PPE. The publication issued by the Governor’s office, which is not considered a “mandate” (yet) has been published as a “measure” to encourage State Employees and Health Care workers to get vaccinated. The measure applies to public and private facilities.
The new directive will apply to three large groups of employees. First, the measure will apply to California state employees. The new policy for state workers will take effect August 2. The measure provides that testing will be “phased in over the next few weeks.”
Second, the measure will apply to employees working at high-risk congregate settings. By way of example (but not limitation) the measure identifies adult and senior residential facilities, homeless shelters, and jails as “high-risk congregate settings.” Employees working at these locations will be subject to the measure beginning August 9.
Third, the measure will apply to “health care workers.” Of note, the publication from the Governor separately references “health care workers” and employees at “health care facilities.” This suggests that health care workers who work outside of health care facilities would be subject to the measure. Unfortunately, Governor Newsom’s directive does not define the term “health care workers.” In previous orders, California’s Public Health Office designated the Health Care and Public Health Sector as a “large, diverse, and open [sector], spanning both the public and private sectors.” In its definition of “health care providers” it included the following: physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses, assistants, and aids; infection control and quality assurance personnel; pharmacists; physical, respiratory, speech and occupational therapists and assistants; social workers and providers serving individuals with disabilities including developmental disabilities; optometrists; speech pathologists; chiropractors; diagnostic and therapeutic technicians; and radiology technologists. This group of professionals will likely be considered “health care workers” for purpose of the measure. Additionally, all employees working at health care facilities will likely be subject to the measure as well.
California’s Public Health Office also includes within its Health Care and Public Health sector employees working in emergency medical services, inpatient and outpatient care workers, home care workers, and residential and community-based providers. Of note, while these employees are considered part of the Health Care and Public Health sector, they are not listed under the heading for “health care providers.” As a result, it is unclear, at this time, whether this latter sect of employees, that do not work at health care facilities, as well as other type of employees listed within the Health Care and Public Health sector, will be considered “health care workers” for purpose of the measure.
Employers of health care workers and congregate facilities will be required to follow the measure effective August 9. Additionally, health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.
For a full copy of Governor’s Newsom’s statement please click here.