Half of unvaccinated California state workers not being tested, says report

Investigation reveals worrying statistics despite governor's August 2 deadline for workers to be vaccinated

Half of unvaccinated California state workers not being tested, says report

Only about half of California's 59,000 unvaccinated state employees were tested in the first week of October, according to an investigation by The Los Angeles Times. The findings come despite a mandate enacted this summer requiring them to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom had issued a first-of-its-kind mandate but the Times’ report is damning. It specifically cited the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in which 6,700 employees are either not vaccinated or did not provide their status to the department. However, Cal Fire said it is only testing 75 employees.

At the Department of Motor Vehicles, 59 percent of employees are fully vaccinated, but only 411 of the department's 3,600 unvaccinated employees are being tested, the Times added.

"If we don’t have the warning system of testing, then we need to reconsider what we are doing,” Dorit Reiss, a law professor who specializes in vaccine policies at the UC Hastings College of the Law, said. “Testing is not a great substitute for vaccinating, but it’s a great backup and better than nothing.”

Newsom had set an Aug. 2 deadline for California workers to be vaccinated. But that deadline has been largely ignored with no repercussions for those who were non-compliant, according to the Times.

In total, California's Department of Human Resources said 66 percent of employees were vaccinated. Employees who were fully remote did not have to be tested or submit proof of vaccination. Infectious-disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi told The Times: “The entire point of Gov. Newsom being the first governor to say state employees should be vaccinated is because these employees are public interfacing, and the vaccine protects them and the public they serve. Then, if the testing component isn’t being universally applied, you are defeating the point.”

Read more: Can an employee revoke a job offer?

Meanwhile, another California county closed down an In-N-Out restaurant yesterday because the popular burger chain refuses to enforce COVID-19 vaccination rules.

According to reports, Contra Costa County health officials indefinitely shut the Pleasant Hill restaurant after it ignored repeated warnings to verify that customers who wanted to dine indoors had vaccination cards or proof they had tested negative for the virus in the past 72 hours.

The county has issued several warnings and fines for local In-N-Out restaurants, including two in Pinole and San Ramon.

Public health authorities see vaccination enforcement requirements as vital tools in slowing COVID-19 at a time when 1,500 or more Americans are dying each day from the virus.

However, In-N-Out, based in Irvine, Calif., has consistently refused to heed the requirements.

``We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government. It is unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not,'' In-N-Out said in a statement.

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