COVID-19 cases have been increasing dramatically nationwide, with epidemiologists citing the much more aggressive and easily transmittable Delta variant leading to surges.
In Santa Clara County, county health officer Dr. Sara Cody joined forces with six other counties and the city of Berkeley to implement indoor masking on August 3, regardless of vaccination status. Los Angeles County was an early re-adopter of masking, with the mandate going into place at midnight on July 17.
Yet, daily case rates have continued to rise statewide. On August 6, the CDC released new data showcasing the Delta variant as at least two times more contagious than previous variants. Across California, that's translated to upticks in 14-day average case counts, as well as a rise in daily known cases — which is even more disorienting in considering how quickly the new variant is spread through community contact, without known vectors.
As such, many health officials statewide have pushed for higher vaccination numbers to ease the spread. In Santa Clara County — one of the first that put COVID-19 regulations in place nationwide, in March 2020 — 80.4% of the eligible population ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated; 86.1% have received at least one dose. Just over the hill, in Santa Cruz County, the numbers are significantly lower; 59.53% are fully vaccinated, with 67.24% partially vaccinated.
Statewide, the numbers are even more staggering. According to California For All's most recent updates, 64.7% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, with 10.3% partially vaccinated.
Even with the continued push to vaccinate as many Californians as possible, state leadership has decided to take regulations to the next level.
Yesterday afternoon, the California Department of Public Health strengthened its requirements for events of 1,000 or more attendees. As of September 20, all attendees will be required to either present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of said event.
Dr. Tomas J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer, said these new rules are a direct result of the Delta variant — and will hopefully ease future variant spreads.
"By requiring individuals to be vaccinated, or test negative for COVID-19 at large events, we are decreasing the risk of infection, hospitalization and death," he said via press release.
Further, self-attestation will no longer be accepted in this change. Individuals will be required to present the documentation, or accept that they cannot attend events.
Many private companies throughout the state have already implemented their own rules and regulations for attendees. Google, Facebook, and other tech hubs have issued vaccine mandates for employees to return to the office. AEG — one of the largest event and concert promoters throughout the U.S. — announced that they will begin requiring proof of vaccination after October 1.
"Our fans, our team members and our families all want to feel as protected as possible from COVID-19 while enjoying our favorite concerts and sporting events," said president and CEO Dan Beckerman. "We are proud to partner with public health officials to continue to play a role in encouraging those who haven’t gotten vaccinated to follow the advice of the medical experts."
The aforementioned requirement will remain in place through November 1, with the possibility of extension in line with COVID-19 trends.
Follow Grace on Twitter for more Bay Area updates: @grace_m_stetson.
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