Vaccine verification is becoming even more common throughout Orange County following a Wednesday state mandate requiring residents show proof of vaccinations for indoor events with more than 1,000 people.
The new mandate kicks in Sept. 20.
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It essentially lowers the threshold on an existing mandate that requires proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test before people can go to large indoor events with more than 5,000 people.
“The Delta variant has proven to be highly transmissible, making it easier to spread in large crowds where people are near each other for long periods of time,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state Department of Public Health director.
Aragón, also the state health officer, said the mandate should reduce hospitalizations and deaths.
“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 in a Wednesday afternoon news release.
State public health officials have already mandated people show they’re either vaccinated or tested negative in the past 72 hours before being able to visit someone in hospitals or nursing homes.
And state public health orders require virtually all school staff and state employees to either verify they’re fully vaccinated or undergo a weekly testing regiment.
Hospital workers will have to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.
State public health officials have so far resisted bringing back a mask mandate, with Gov. Gavin Newsom instead pushing for more vaccinations since the June 15 statewide reopening.
Newsom is facing a recall election next month.
Cases began to increase shortly after the statewide reopening, when nearly all pandemic measures were dropped.
UC Irvine epidemiologist and public health expert, Sanghyuk Shin, said these types of mandates — like vaccine verification — could help reduce virus transmission.
“I would say at this point we’re in the middle of a pandemic — it’s a crisis. People are dying on a daily basis. The more policies and measures that are in place, the better I would say,” Shin said in Wednesday phone interview.
Orange County saw 1,213 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, according to the OC Health
Wednesday also saw 568 people hospitalized, including 125 in intensive care units, according to the OC Health Care Agency.
The vaccine and testing mandates don’t apply to the county workforce and OC officials are instead relying on a self attestation process.
Outbreak data provided by an Orange County Employee Association official to Voice of OC shows eight workplaces are currently facing virus outbreaks.
Half of them are at the OC Social Services Agency, which helps provide welfare benefits to struggling families.
The agency has been hit particularly hard because many employees work indoors with residents to help them fill out benefit application forms, said numerous employees interviewed over the past week.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio