Today, Gov. Newsom announced new measures to encourage state workers and health care workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19. This includes a new state public health officer order that requires health care and congregate settings, including hospitals, to ensure that unvaccinated personnel undergo at least weekly COVID-19 testing and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Amid increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases nationally and in California, these additional steps beyond the infection control practices hospitals have in place will provide another layer of protection for health care workers and patients.
The requirements for health care workers will go into effect in two weeks on Aug. 9. Health care facilities will have an additional two weeks — until Aug. 23 — to come into compliance.
The health order lays out the specific requirements:
- Vaccine verification: Verification of vaccination status of workers in hospitals and other facilities that care for vulnerable individuals
- Testing: At least twice weekly testing for unvaccinated workers in general acute care hospitals (GACH) and at least weekly testing for workers in acute psychiatric hospitals (APHs). Testing can be antigen or PCR.
- PPE: Provide N95 or other respirator for unvaccinated workers in patient care areas and in areas where patients have access in GACHs; these unvaccinated workers are strongly encouraged to wear them. Provide surgical masks in APHs; these workers are required to wear them in indoor work settings.
CHA also expects that CDPH will update All-Facilities Letter 20-88.1 on COVID-19 testing in light of this health order.
Given the magnitude of the situation — accelerating numbers of individuals with COVID-19, including those needing hospital care — these steps, as challenging as they will be to implement, are critical. CHA issued a statement today standing with Gov. Newsom on these steps.
To support hospitals and health systems in implementation, CHA has requested that the California Department of Public Health provide more information during its weekly COVID-19 Health Facilities call tomorrow, July 27 from 8 to 9 a.m. (PT) — dial in: (844)721-7239, access code: 7993227. In addition, CHA will host a members-only webinar this Friday, July 30 from 11 a.m. 12:30 p.m. (PT). Registration is available on the CHA website.