County will require employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

Registered Nurse Trish Thuy Mai of Carbon Health prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at an all-day, pop-up vaccination site organized by Assembywoman Suzette Valladares which was held at American Family Funding in Valencia on Saturday, 0711721. Dan Watson/The Signal

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis announced Wednesday night that she issued an executive order mandating that the county’s more than 100,000-person workforce must receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1. 

“As vaccinations continue at a pace slower than what is necessary to slow the spread, the need for immediate action is great,” Solis said in a prepared statement, citing the rapid spread of the Delta variant. 

Solis’ order allows for medical and religious exemptions, while providing a timeline that “gives…employees the time they need to consult with their health care providers, while moving expeditiously to protect the health and safety of our 110,000 workers,” she wrote. 

The Board of Supervisors will also consider a motion at its next regular meeting Tuesday that asks county staff to develop a vaccination policy for county employees within 15 days. 

The policy would include a requirement to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and show proof of vaccination or face weekly COVID-19 testing, according to the motion.  

County staff will also need to explore if the policy could apply to the county’s contractors. 

“The development of a vaccination policy for the county workforce should consider application of appropriate religious and medical exemptions and include a HIPAA-compliant countywide tracking and testing system,” the motion, drafted by Supervisor Janice Hahn, stated. “Too many of our residents have already lost their lives to this virus, and we must do everything we can to protect their health.” 

The motion would also make COVID-19 vaccination a mandatory condition of employment for county employees in a variety of health care settings. 

The city of Santa Clarita has not established a similar vaccination policy for its employees. 

“We are not considering requiring employees to get vaccinated at this time, because it is not a requirement at this time,” city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan said in an email statement. 

While community transmission remains high according to the Centers for Disease Control indicators, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported Thursday afternoon that county’s case rate experienced a “slight decrease.” 

“This does suggest to us that our rise in cases may be leveling out,” she said, noting that daily test positivity rate fell by 1%, to 4.73%, compared to last week. 

Ferrer also contrasted L.A. County’s case rate increase of 22% with the state’s higher 57%. She said the county’s revised health order returning masking requirements may have contributed to that difference.  

“Masking remains an effective way to reduce transmission,” she said, mentioning that this week represented the third consecutive week that the county has seen an uptick in people getting the first dose of the vaccine. 

Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Thursday: 

Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 3,672 

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,315,313 

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 19 

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 24,739 

Hospitalizations countywide: 1,279 

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Aug. 1: 35, with 1,305 discharged since the onset of the pandemic. 

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 151, 115 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita 

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 30,463 

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Aug. 4: 310 

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of July 30: 72.5% 

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of July 30: 68.8% 

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