As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread uncontrolled, the state and local leaders are encouraging residents to get vaccinated as the best protection against the virus.
California has even begun requiring all state workers to get vaccinated or be subject to weekly testing. So far, San Mateo County has declined to do the same. County Health Public Information Officer Preston Merchant said on Monday that San Mateo County is not considering vaccine mandates for its staff or the public at this time.
The California vaccine mandate, which went into effect on Monday, requires all state workers to get their full vaccination series or get tested once per week. Also included in the order is a requirement that all state health care facilities verify that their workers are vaccinated or be tested regularly before the end of the month.
After California issued its vaccination mandate for all state employees, some companies with Bay Area offices, including tech giants like Google and Facebook, have followed suit. The federal government has instituted the same mandate, in addition to offering paid leave to employees to get vaccinated along with other incentives.
Last week, several California jurisdictions implemented their own vaccine requirements for public employees, including the city of San Francisco. At a press conference on Monday, Marin County Deputy Health Officer Lisa Santora said that while her county does not have a mandate of its own, it supports businesses that require vaccinations, particularly to protect workers who have jobs that are public-facing and their families.
“As more facilities require vaccination, we have more protections for our community,” Santora said.
With or without a county mandate, many Coastside residents will face employer requirements that they vaccinate if they work in health care settings, for the state or for any one of the businesses now mandating vaccinations. One such group is State Parks employees, who staff the dozens of state beaches and parks in the county.
Joe Walters, Superintendent for California State Parks in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, said most State Parks employees are already vaccinated, but now must go onto the California Department of Public Health’s website to attest their vaccination status. Those who are vaccinated are then given a QR code to upload into the system. Those who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask any time they are indoors and will be subject to weekly testing. Walters said State Parks is still waiting to find out the logistics of the testing from the California Natural Resources Agency, which manages the parks department.
Before the new Bay Area indoor mask mandate, vaccinated employees were not required to mask up indoors at work, but Walters said he is continuing the practice to protect his 6-year-old son who is ineligible for a vaccine.
“The biggest thing for us is to reduce transmission to people who aren’t able to get vaccinated,” Walters said.