LOS ANGELES—With the coronavirus surging again, Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas plans to introduce a motion July 28 to develop a policy requiring all city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and to report their vaccination status to the appropriate city department.
The move, if enacted by the council, would bring the city in line with other cities that have taken steps in the direction of a vaccine mandate, including Pasadena in the Los Angeles area.
San Francisco and New York City have announced similar plans. On July 26 California officials announced that all state employees and all workers at hospitals and health care facilities will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or be tested at least once a week.
“The City of Los Angeles must lead by example,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement released late July 26. “During [the July 28] council meeting, I plan to introduce a motion that would direct staff to develop a policy to require all city employees be fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus; and report their COVID-19 vaccination status to the appropriate city department.
“Plain and simple,” he said, “vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic. They are the most effective way to prevent transmission and limit COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. If we want our economy to fully recover, if we want our children to be able to go to school without masks on, and if we want the most vulnerable members of our community to not end up in the hospital, we must all do our part and this motion is a step in the right direction.”
With the Delta variant of the coronavirus continuing to drive up infection rates and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County, Ridley-Thomas added, “I believe that now is the time to scale up our COVID-19 precautions.”
Los Angeles County on July 26 reported four more deaths and 1,966 new COVID-19 infections, while hospitalizations increased to 825, more than double the number from just two weeks ago.
“It’s time to get it done,” Ridley-Thomas said, regarding a vaccine mandate.
He’s likely to receive support from fellow council members, several of whom have already publicly supported the city moving in a vaccine-mandate direction.
“I support having all city workers vaccinated,” council President Nury Martinez told the Los Angeles Times.
Councilman Kevin de León, meanwhile, told the LA Times, “There’s no question in my mind that the city of LA should model to the state and the nation that we will do everything within our power to keep our city workers and neighbors safe.”
De León, however, said he hasn’t yet worked out potential consequences if city employees fail to comply with a vaccine mandate.
Meanwhile, after an announcement by the state on July 26, all state employees and all workers at hospitals and health care facilities across California will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination—while those who are unable or refuse to do so will have to be tested at least once a week.
The vaccine verification program for state employees is expected to begin as early as next week. The system for health care workers will be implemented over the coming weeks, with compliance expected by Aug. 23. It will apply to all health care settings across the state, public and private.
The policy falls short of a vaccine “mandate,” offering employees the option of undergoing regular COVID testing instead of providing proof of vaccination. Those workers will be required to undergo testing at least once a week, possibly even twice a week.