LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles will require city employees to show proof vaccination against COVID-19 or be regularly tested, officials said Tuesday, a policy in line with a new state rule announced by the governor a day earlier.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez said the requirement is part of a broader push toward a vaccine mandate for city employees.
They said the requirement is needed because of the growing threat from the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
“This urgent need means that if you’re a city employee, we’re now going to require you to either show that you’re vaccinated or take a weekly test, and we’re committed to pursuing a full vaccine mandate,” Garcetti said in the statement. “I urge employers across Los Angeles to follow this example.”
Garcetti said at an evening news conference that there’s “an alarming spike” of COVID-19 among the city workforce, with 110 new cases in the past week, compared to 34 in the prior week.
The plan is expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks following a meeting Wednesday of a City Council committee focused on employee relations. City departments will be directed to collect data on vaccination rates and deliver it by Aug. 15, Garcetti said.
The city would pursue a vaccine mandate once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the three most commonly used shots.
Long Beach, the second-largest city in Los Angeles County, also announced a similar requirement.
The announcements come after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he will require state employees and millions of health care workers, public and private, to provide proof of vaccination or get regular virus tests.
Under the new state rules, employees who do not provide verification of vaccination must submit to testing once or twice a week and wear a mask while working. Vaccine verification also will be required in jails, homeless shelters and other places where people congregate, Newsom said.
While about 62% of all eligible Californians are fully vaccinated, the state has struggled to make significant progress in recent weeks. Infections and hospitalizations are rising, with the delta variant now making up an estimated 80% of cases in California, though the growing numbers are still far below the winter peak.
Newsom has been hesitant to reimpose requirements on masks or social distancing since he allowed the state to reopen on June 15. Meanwhile, counties have forged ahead. Los Angeles County, home to a quarter of the state’s population, is again requiring masks for people in indoor settings, and several other counties have encouraged it.