Richmond, CA

Richmond to require all city employees to get vaccinated

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By Ian Firstenberg

(RICHMOND, Calif.) Richmond, following the lead of other East Bay cities, will require all city employees to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

According to an email from City Manager Laura Snideman, reported by The East Bay Times, all employees, interns, volunteers and many city contractors who regularly work on site will have to be at least partially vaccinated by Sept. 7 and fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

This policy change came on the same day the FDA announced full approval for the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the memo, workers can take paid time off to get the vaccine. The department heads are responsible for the follow-up to confirm that employees have been vaccinated. Since the policy also applies to contractors, security guards and train city employees will be required to be vaccinated as well. It's unclear if contractor workers will be able to take paid time off to get their vaccine doses.

"This policy is issued as an emergency measure based on the strong recommendation of the Contra Costa County Health Officer that employers adopt such policies immediately and based on the significant rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated due to the Delta variant," Snideman's wrote in the memo.

While employees can apply for exemptions based on medical or religious grounds, those applications go through the city's human resource department.

This follows a wave of vaccination mandates throughout the broader East Bay. Santa Clara and San Francisco counties have already issued vaccination mandates for all city employees. If employees are uncomfortable with vaccinations they can submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.

Snideman's memo does not mention weekly tests as a supplementary option for getting vaccinated and she was unavailable for comment.

A similar mandate was issued Aug. 5 by the state regarding health care workers.

Similarly, last week Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Walnut Creek Mayor Kevin Wilke urged city employees and contractors to get vaccinated during a press conference.

The FDA approval of the vaccine bolsters both the legal defense for vaccination mandates and possibly raises the price for the vaccine. While companies have yet to announce a charge and the vast majority of vaccination sites have been free the FDA approval means that health insurance companies can now charge for the vaccine.

In the past two weeks, Richmond recorded 487 cases of COVID-19. Across the county, there have been at least 3,719 confirmed cases in the past two weeks.

In light of rising cases, the city of Richmond reported that as of Monday, 73.8 percent of Richmond residents were fully vaccinated and 81.6 percent of residents were partially vaccinated.

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