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Santa Clara among 3 Bay Area counties urging employers to implement vaccination policy

Recommendation comes as health officers see rise in COVID cases among unvaccinated, working individuals

Song Chen speaks with Selena Lara, an El Camino Health licensed vocational nurse, before receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at an El Camino Health vaccination site in Sunnyvale on April 2, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

As the Bay Area experiences an increased rate of COVID-19 cases, particularly among the unvaccinated population, three county health officers urged employers on Thursday to consider implementing a vaccination mandate in the workplace.

At a virtual press conference July 22, health officers from Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties spoke on the current impact of COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions, but were in unison when it came to the broader recent trends: The highly contagious delta variant has caused a surge in cases in the past few weeks and it's mostly coming from unvaccinated individuals.

"The current surge is really being driven by unvaccinated, working age adults, mostly in the 20- to 50-year-old age range," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County's health officer, adding that the age group has seen the most cases since seniors are more likely to be vaccinated.

The current case numbers in Santa Clara County are far below the rate the region experienced at the beginning of the year. On Jan. 5, the county recorded 2,251 cases — the highest one-day total so far this year. Data shows a recent spike in cases. On July 15, the county recorded 162 cases, which is seven times higher than the lowest total on May 31 with just 22 infections.

"One of the reasons that this recommendation is occurring at this time is that all the various counties have been seeing a dramatic increase in cases in the last several weeks," said Naveena Bobba, deputy health director at the San Francisco Public Health Department.

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The health officers also recommended that employers acquire documentation of vaccination statuses rather than self-attestations to ensure workers are following workplace policies.

For employees who refuse to get vaccinated, the officers recommended employers require medical grade masks such as N95s for the entire workplace as well as weekly COVID-19 testing for the unvaccinated. However, if all employees within a workplace show proof of vaccination, Farnitano said that "it would be very reasonable for them to unmask."

Thursday's announcement was only a recommendation and not a mandate, but the health officers reminded the public that state and federal laws allow workplaces to implement a vaccination requirement. Some major employers already have done so, including the city and county of San Francisco and smaller local businesses such as Kepler's Books in Menlo Park.

Some counties, including San Francisco and Contra Costa, have also put in place vaccine mandates specifically for workers in high-risk facilities such as acute care hospitals and homeless shelters.

But as of Thursday, the three health officials said their counties have no plans to implement a mandate for all employers or have established a specific threshold that triggers it — instead banking on employers to take the initiative.

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"Our focus right now is really on encouraging employers to take that step for their own employees," Farnitano said. "They know their own workforce and their own workplace conditions and know best how to design workplace policies that will move their employees towards vaccination."

In trying to make the case for a universal vaccination policy in the workplace, Dr. George Han, deputy health officer of Santa Clara County, pointed to the financial incentive in keeping a safe workplace environment.

"While health and safety are the most important concerns, there's also a strong financial argument for business owners to get behind vaccine requirements that help their bottom line by reducing lost productivity from employees that have to isolate or quarantine or take sick time off due to a COVID case or exposure," Han said. "And remember, some people who get severe cases of COVID or long COVID may be out of work for months."

Counties across the state are currently experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant after public health restrictions were mostly removed over a month ago on June 15.

Last week, Los Angeles County reinstated a mask mandate in indoor settings for all, vaccinated or unvaccinated. And while San Mateo County did not join the three Bay Area counties, it announced on Thursday a new requirement that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask when inside county facilities starting this Monday, July 26.

"We know COVID is not going away," Farnitano said. "The choice now is to get the vaccine or get COVID."

Kim McCarl, communications officer for the Contra Costa Health Services, said she anticipates other Bay Area counties will make similar recommendations to employers "in due time."

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Santa Clara among 3 Bay Area counties urging employers to implement vaccination policy

Recommendation comes as health officers see rise in COVID cases among unvaccinated, working individuals

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Jul 22, 2021, 2:28 pm

As the Bay Area experiences an increased rate of COVID-19 cases, particularly among the unvaccinated population, three county health officers urged employers on Thursday to consider implementing a vaccination mandate in the workplace.

At a virtual press conference July 22, health officers from Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties spoke on the current impact of COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions, but were in unison when it came to the broader recent trends: The highly contagious delta variant has caused a surge in cases in the past few weeks and it's mostly coming from unvaccinated individuals.

"The current surge is really being driven by unvaccinated, working age adults, mostly in the 20- to 50-year-old age range," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County's health officer, adding that the age group has seen the most cases since seniors are more likely to be vaccinated.

The current case numbers in Santa Clara County are far below the rate the region experienced at the beginning of the year. On Jan. 5, the county recorded 2,251 cases — the highest one-day total so far this year. Data shows a recent spike in cases. On July 15, the county recorded 162 cases, which is seven times higher than the lowest total on May 31 with just 22 infections.

"One of the reasons that this recommendation is occurring at this time is that all the various counties have been seeing a dramatic increase in cases in the last several weeks," said Naveena Bobba, deputy health director at the San Francisco Public Health Department.

The health officers also recommended that employers acquire documentation of vaccination statuses rather than self-attestations to ensure workers are following workplace policies.

For employees who refuse to get vaccinated, the officers recommended employers require medical grade masks such as N95s for the entire workplace as well as weekly COVID-19 testing for the unvaccinated. However, if all employees within a workplace show proof of vaccination, Farnitano said that "it would be very reasonable for them to unmask."

Thursday's announcement was only a recommendation and not a mandate, but the health officers reminded the public that state and federal laws allow workplaces to implement a vaccination requirement. Some major employers already have done so, including the city and county of San Francisco and smaller local businesses such as Kepler's Books in Menlo Park.

Some counties, including San Francisco and Contra Costa, have also put in place vaccine mandates specifically for workers in high-risk facilities such as acute care hospitals and homeless shelters.

But as of Thursday, the three health officials said their counties have no plans to implement a mandate for all employers or have established a specific threshold that triggers it — instead banking on employers to take the initiative.

"Our focus right now is really on encouraging employers to take that step for their own employees," Farnitano said. "They know their own workforce and their own workplace conditions and know best how to design workplace policies that will move their employees towards vaccination."

In trying to make the case for a universal vaccination policy in the workplace, Dr. George Han, deputy health officer of Santa Clara County, pointed to the financial incentive in keeping a safe workplace environment.

"While health and safety are the most important concerns, there's also a strong financial argument for business owners to get behind vaccine requirements that help their bottom line by reducing lost productivity from employees that have to isolate or quarantine or take sick time off due to a COVID case or exposure," Han said. "And remember, some people who get severe cases of COVID or long COVID may be out of work for months."

Counties across the state are currently experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant after public health restrictions were mostly removed over a month ago on June 15.

Last week, Los Angeles County reinstated a mask mandate in indoor settings for all, vaccinated or unvaccinated. And while San Mateo County did not join the three Bay Area counties, it announced on Thursday a new requirement that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask when inside county facilities starting this Monday, July 26.

"We know COVID is not going away," Farnitano said. "The choice now is to get the vaccine or get COVID."

Kim McCarl, communications officer for the Contra Costa Health Services, said she anticipates other Bay Area counties will make similar recommendations to employers "in due time."

Comments

JS
Registered user
Rengstorff Park
on Jul 22, 2021 at 10:40 pm
JS, Rengstorff Park
Registered user
on Jul 22, 2021 at 10:40 pm

[Post removed due to trolling]


Alex M
Registered user
Willowgate
on Jul 23, 2021 at 2:15 pm
Alex M, Willowgate
Registered user
on Jul 23, 2021 at 2:15 pm

My employer is starting to encourage people to come back to work. I'm willing to return to the office if my employer is comfortable with me not wearing a mask. It's just too annoying having to work with a mask while wearing reading glasses that fog up all the time. I've had to go into the office for one or two partial days each week. No matter what mask I wear (currently the KN94, which is a good mask) I just cannot get a good enough seal on the sides of my nose to prevent fogging. It's hard to get stuff done under those conditions.

Until I am allowed to be mask-free at work, I'll work from home. A vaccination mandate would solve the problem. I hope employers consider that masks and glasses aren't a good mix, and factor that into their decision about a vaccination mandate if they want employees to return to the office.


chewie
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jul 24, 2021 at 12:50 am
chewie, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jul 24, 2021 at 12:50 am

[Post removed due to trolling]


Tim
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Jul 26, 2021 at 11:08 am
Tim, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2021 at 11:08 am

Those who refuse to get vaccinated are putting our entire community at risk — including children under 12 years old, those with a compromised immune system, and the elderly.

While non-vaxers have a right to refuse vaccinations, employers, particularly small businesses, should require vaccinations as a employment requirement. Many small businesses are hanging by a thread. They can’t afford to be shut down again.


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jul 27, 2021 at 6:18 pm
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jul 27, 2021 at 6:18 pm

Tim: You include "children under 12" in your list of at-risk people. On what evidence are you basing this claim? I ask because the CDC's own provisional mortality stats showed that in 2020 the total number of children under 15 who died from Covid was just 134. Out of 377,883 total Covid deaths. That's one third of one percent of Covid deaths (.035%). Statistically, children are at greater risk from crossing the street.

Source: Web Link


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jul 27, 2021 at 6:22 pm
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jul 27, 2021 at 6:22 pm

Is anyone talking about a vaccine exemption for those who have previously had Covid? It is now well-established that prior infection confers equal or greater immunity than vaccination. Given this, a vaccine provides no benefit to those who are previously infected, only risk -- small though that may (or may not) be.
Source: An article by scientists from Stanford, Oxford and Harvard: Web Link


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Jul 27, 2021 at 8:11 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Jul 27, 2021 at 8:11 pm

PeaceLove, those scientists are all but disgraced at this point. They've been pushing for "herd immunity" since the beginning, and their studies on infection fatality rate were wildly flawed (to the point where their estimates were lower than the observed fatality rate in NYC if every resident had been infected).

As to "children under 12", death is not the only bad outcome from disease.


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jul 28, 2021 at 3:16 am
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 3:16 am

Randy: Got a source for your claim that their studies were "wildly flawed," let alone that they are "all but disgraced at this point?" They have disagreed with much of the "official" narrative around Covid but they're all highly credentialed scientists at three of the world's most respected mainstream academic institutions.


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jul 28, 2021 at 3:18 am
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 3:18 am

Randy: Got a source for your claim that their studies were "wildly flawed," let alone that they are "all but disgraced at this point?" They have disagreed with much of the "official" narrative around Covid but they're all highly credentialed scientists at three of the world's most respected mainstream academic institutions.


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Jul 28, 2021 at 9:25 am
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 9:25 am

Sure! Flaws in their statistics for an expert audience (Web Link and flaws in their methods and ethics for a lay audience (Web Link I hope that helps!


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