All state employees and healthcare workers in California will soon be required to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination or be required to take a coronavirus test once or twice a week.
The announcement by Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday affects roughly 246,000 state employees and 2 million health care workers in both private and public-sector jobs, and it comes as we're seeing more COVID-19 cases across the state.
California has put more shots in arms than any other state. More than 43 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered with nearly 75% of those eligible having received at least one dose.
But with vaccination rates leveling out and the increase of the delta variant, the state is now ramping up vaccination efforts even more.
"California is committed to vaccination verification," said Governor Gavin Newsom. "If they're not vaccinated and cannot verify that they've been vaccinated, we are requiring that they get tested."
Under the new health order, employees who aren't vaccinated will need to be tested weekly. Those in high-risk, highly vulnerable settings will be tested twice a week.
Governor Newsom explained that the testing is in addition to mask-wearing.
Some companies in the private sector are also joining in on the new requirements. This could impact those who work in doctors' offices, dentists' offices, dialysis centers, and homeless shelters.
"Our projections are sobering. Our projections over the next number of weeks will show a significant increase in the number of hospitalizations if we continue down this path," Governor Newsom said.
In Santa Barbara County, the two-week hospitalization average is up 71%. New cases are also up by 63%.
"Everything is on the rise," said Steve Popkin, CEO of Lompoc Valley Medical Center.
Popkin adds that while they are only treating two COVID patients, case rates in the county haven't been this high since early April.
"The rates are going exponentially higher," Popkin said. "Everyone is pointing the finger at the more infectious delta variant."
Meanwhile, nearly 70% of those 12 years and older have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Barbara County. But the push continues for even higher numbers.
Last week, California reported a 16% increase in the number of people getting their first dose or receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It's another step that some health experts say could put the pandemic behind us.
The new vaccine requirements and testing go into effect sometime in August.
We will have an update on the latest COVID-19 numbers from San Luis Obispo County on Tuesday. A virtual briefing is set for 11 a.m.