In response to the surge of new COVID-19 infections due to the new Delta variant, on Aug. 5 Gov. Newsom issued a health officer order to require COVID-19 vaccinations in specified health care settings, including all general acute care hospitals (GACHs), acute psychiatric hospitals, and skilled-nursing facilities (SNFs). This requirement comes after a growing number of hospital systems led the way by creating their own vaccine mandate to protect their employees and patients.
While the implementation and enforcement details remain to be developed, the emergency order requires all GACHs, acute psychiatric hospitals, and SNFs to require all staff and employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 if they have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to COVID-19. The health order does provide limited health and religious exemptions. Health exemptions must be in writing and signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician, but do not need to describe the underlying medical condition or disability. The details on what constitutes a lawful religious exemption remain undetermined. Exempted workers remain under the twice-weekly testing requirement.
As the health order requires hospitals to be compliant with the order on or before Sept. 30, additional guidance will likely be forthcoming in the weeks to follow. CHA will continue to report on any new developments with the health order, as well as work with the administration on developing guidance to permit full compliance with the order.
CHA also issued a media statement commending the governor for his actions aimed at protecting patients and communities from COVID-19 illnesses and death.