California Implements And Encourages All Employers to Adopt Measures to Combat Delta Variant

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California Implements And Encourages All Employers to

Adopt Measures to Combat Delta Variant

The State of California implemented a first-in-the-nation standard to require all State Employees, Health Care Workers and employees in High-Risk Congregate settings to show proof of vaccination or get tested once a week. The State is encouraging all local governments and businesses to adopt similar measures in order to combat the spread of the Delta Variant, saying that California remains committed to keeping the state’s economy open while ensuring that employees feel safe in the workplace.  To that end, the state is encouraging employers to ensure that their employees are vaccinated and will lead by example by implementing these new vaccination measures.

Governor Gavin Newson says these renewed efforts are to protect Californians: “We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from this dangerous Delta variant.”  Unvaccinated workers will be subject to at least weekly Covid-19 testing and will be required to wear appropriate PPE.  The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities took effect yesterday, and health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.

“The Delta Covid variant is one of the most infectious respiratory diseases ever seen by scientists” said Dr. Rochelle Walkensky.  The virus is ripping through U.S. counties with low vaccination rates, while counties with high vaccination rates are seeing lower rates of new cases.  In hospitals around the country 97% of the people admitted with COVID symptoms are unvaccinated and 99.5% of all COVID deaths are also among the unvaccinated. California is proactively engaging in a multi-pronged outreach and incentives strategy to reach holdouts, especially in communities hardest hit by the pandemic and those who have been unable to get to a vaccination site (e.g., homebound, limited transportation and flexibility, higher vaccine hesitancy and/or living in a more remote area).

State workers may seek an exemption from this requirement by providing a declination form signed by the worker stating that they either decline the vaccination based on religious beliefs or are excused from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine due to “Qualifying Medical Reasons.”  To be eligible for a “Qualified Medical Reason” exemption, the worker is required to provide a written statement signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician stating that the worker qualifies for the exemption.  The statement should not describe the underlying medical condition or disability but should indicate the probable duration of the worker’s inability to receive the vaccine or whether the duration is unknown or permanent. Employees who are exempted would have to be tested regularly; twice a week if they work in acute or long-term care facilities and once a week in other healthcare settings.  Unvaccinated employees would also have to wear a surgical mask or respirator, such as N95 while inside a facility.

Californian private employers are questioning whether they can require their employees to be vaccinated and are concerned with the possibilities of litigation.  Here at Epps & Coulson, LLP we understand that you may have questions.  We are actively assisting many clients to implement new COVID back to work policies.  If you need assistance, please feel free to contact Dawn:

Information contained in this Memo is intended for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.  It is considered advertising under laws of some states.  Epps & Coulson, LLP encourages you to call to discuss these matters as they apply to you or your business.


Attorneys admitted to practice in

California, New York, Colorado, Texas, Oregon and Hawaii