SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Businesses in Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties were urged Thursday to implement mandatory COVID vaccination policies amid the rapid rise COVID cases fueled by the Delta variant.
Public health officers from the three counties issued a joint statement ahead of a press conference Thursday, asking businesses to make vaccinations a requirement of employment, with very limited exceptions.
In addition, employers were encouraged to require frequent COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated employees. and enforce currents state masking rules.
Contra Costa County health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said the current surge in COVID cases is being driven by unvaccinated working adults.
“Workers who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 pose a substantial health and financial risk to the workplace,” said Farnitano in a prepared statement. “Most importantly, workplace exposures have led to serious illnesses and deaths.”
Farnitano said unlike older adults who have high vaccination rates, only 65% of younger adults have been fully vaccinated. The health officers said mandatory workplace safety requirements would help boost vaccination rates among working-age individuals.
The health officers indicated that while masks should be worn in workplace settings where people congregate, businesses that can properly ascertain the vaccination status of their employees can safely relax masking rules. However, masks were urged for everyone working in a setting where there is a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
Requiring documentation of COVID-19 vaccination rather than self-attestation was recommended as a best practice for employers to ensure workers adhering to the workplace protections.
“A universal vaccination policy may benefit businesses because the quarantine requirements are different for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers,” said Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s health officer in a prepared statement. “Currently, an employee who is not vaccinated must quarantine for at least 10 days if exposed to someone who tested positive, whereas fully vaccinated workers do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms.”