LOS ANGELES (CNS) - All Los Angeles County employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1 under an executive order issued by Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis.
With the coronavirus again raging, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, Solis said, “the need for immediate action is great.''
Solis cited an 18-fold increase in cases and five-fold jump in hospitalizations since June 15, when the county lifted coronavirus restrictions amid falling case rates.
In announcing the executive order Wednesday night, Solis said there will be exemptions for medical and religious purposes -- but otherwise, it will apply to all of the county's 110,000 employees “regardless of the department they serve.''
The order came on a day the county announced another 3,734 COVID-19 cases -- the largest single-day number since the beginning of February. The new cases gave the county an overall total from throughout the pandemic of 1,311,656.
“Today, the county is reporting another 3,734 new cases, 1,242 hospitalizations, and tragically, 16 deaths,'' Solis said in a statement.
“When the county marked its reopening on June 15, there were only 210 confirmed cases, fewer than 220 were hospitalized with COVID-19, and the positivity rate sat at an incredibly low 0.6%. However, with the rapid spread of the Delta variant, our daily cases have increased nearly eighteen-fold and hospitalizations more than five-fold. As vaccinations continue at a pace slower than what is necessary to slow the spread, the need for immediate action is great.''
Solis said the Oct. 1 deadline provides county workers with a timeline in which they can consult with their healthcare providers.
She also said that, as board chair, she has the power, during a proclaimed local emergency, “to promulgate orders and regulations necessary to provide for the protection of life or property.'' On March 4, 2020, the Los Angeles County Health Officer issued a declaration of local health emergency due to COVID-19.
Solis' order is more sweeping than mandates elsewhere in the country, including the city of Los Angeles and the state of California, which state that government employees get vaccinated or agree to regular testing. Solis' executive order does not include a testing option.
In her statement, Solis indicated she hopes other employers in the county will follow her lead.
“We are once again demonstrating to employers across the county that we are prepared to lead by example and set a standard for slowing the spread -- just as we did when reinstating indoor masking, which has since been emulated by varying degrees by the CDC (the federal Centers for Disease Control), the state and localities across the country,'' she said.
“We must all be prepared to come together and do our part to protect one another and get this virus under control once more. We cannot wait another day as this virus continues to upend and dramatically alter the lives of our residents. With today's executive order, the county is prepared to lead, and I am hopeful other employers across our great county do the same.''
Solis' order also came on the same day that Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez introduced a proposal under which proof of at least partial vaccination against COVID-19 would be required to enter public indoor spaces in the city of Los Angeles -- including restaurants, bars, gyms, concert venues, movie theaters and even “retail establishments.''
Martinez introduced the motion with Councilman Mitch O'Farrell. It is similar to a policy announced this week in New York City, but would be more restrictive with the inclusion of retail establishments -- potentially limiting access to some basic necessities.
The New York policy restricts access only to more entertainment-oriented venues such as indoor restaurants, fitness centers and theaters.
According to O'Farrell's office, the exact businesses that would fall under the restrictions would be determined during the drafting of the ordinance by city attorneys. No determination has yet been made on whether such retail restrictions would extend to grocery stores.
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