Starting Wednesday, everyone visiting a loved one at a hospital or nursing facility in California will need to provide proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or a negative coronavirus test.
The new statewide health officer order comes as California sees a rapid increase in coronavirus infections and as the highly contagious delta variant circulates throughout the state.
So far, there have been over 4,000 outbreaks in residential care facilities, over 2,000 outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities and over 450 outbreaks in hospitals in California to date, according to the California Department of Public Health.
“Recent outbreaks in health care settings have frequently been traced to unvaccinated staff members, demonstrating the risk of unvaccinated persons in these settings,” Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón says in the order.
All visitors to the health care settings still have to wear a mask upon entry to the facilities — regardless of vaccination status. Here’s what to know about the new order:
What facilities does it apply to?
- General acute care hospitals
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Intermediate care facilities
What can be used as proof of vaccination?
- The CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card
- The WHO Yellow Card
- A photocopy of a vaccination record card
- A photo of a vaccination record card on a phone or other electronic device
- Documentation of COVID-19 vaccination from a health care provider
- A digital record that includes a QR code that when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader, displays the person’s, date of birth, vaccine dates and vaccine type.
What can facilities accept instead of proof of vaccination?
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated visitors can still visit the health care facilities if they show documentation of a negative coronavirus test that was done within 72 hours before the visit.
Both PCR and antigen tests are accepted.
Facilities can offer onsite coronavirus testing of visitors if practical, but they don’t have to.
Those who are visiting a patient in critical condition, when death may be imminent, are exempt from the vaccination and testing requirements. But they still have to wear masks.
If visiting loved ones outdoors only, showing proof of testing and vaccination won’t be necessary.