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California will require all of its roughly 2.2 million health care and long term care workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said last month he would require health care workers to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
But the new order issued Thursday by the California Department of Public Health does not give health care workers a choice. It says all must be fully vaccinated by the end of September.
Newsom tweeted about the new rule on Thursday, but has not said why he decided to change it. The order from the Department of Public Health references the delta variant, a new version of the virus that is more contagious and can “cause more severe illness.”
California is averaging 18.3 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people a day, with the delta variant causing most of the new infections. About 63% of Californians 12 and older have been fully vaccinated. Another 10% have been partially vaccinated.
“Increasing numbers of health care workers are among the new positive cases, despite vaccinations being prioritized for this group when vaccines initially became available,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California’s public health officer.
Hospitals and other health facilities will also be required to verify that visitors are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19.
The department said that since January, the most common settings for virus outbreaks were in residential care facilities.
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