Governor Gavin Newsom took the gloves off when it came to announcing a new health order in which all state employees and health care workers in California be vaccinated against COVID-19.
If state employees and health care workers aren't vaccinated they must wear masks and undergo regular COVID-19 testing.
Newsom also used to the chance to announce the new rule to take a shot at the “right-wing echo chamber” he said has been spreading misinformation about vaccines. Among those he called out by name were Tucker Carlson and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“Too many people have chosen to live with this virus,” Newsom said at a press conference to announce the new rule that was held on Monday in Oakland.
He said those who are choosing not to be vaccinated are having an impact on “the rest of us in a profound, devastating and deadly way.”
Newsom said the rules the state has put in place are similar to DUI laws. “You don't have the choice to drink and drive,” he said. “That's the equivalent.”
He referred to Carlson, a Fox News commentator, when he noted there are those placing doubt about the vaccines who are working for organizations that require vaccinations such as Fox News. He said they are placing doubts about the vaccines while receiving “life-saving vaccines themselves.”
Newsom accused those of placing doubts about the vaccines of “profiteering off misinformation intentionally.”
“We are exhausted by the ideological prism that too mank Americans are living under,” Newsom said. “We are exhausted by the right-wing echo chamber that has been perpetrating misinformation about vaccine efficacy and safety.
“It's disgraceful. It's unconscionable.”
Newsom said the state needs to lead by example when announcing the new rule for state employees and health care workers. The new rule was issued jointly by the California Department of Human Resoures and the Department of Public Health.
State workers will have until August 2 to prove to their employer they have been vaccinated. Otherwise they will have to wear a mask while at work and be test as many as one or two times a week, Newsom said.
As far as health care workers, Newsom said the mandate will be done in much the same way the state mask mandate was done in partnership with health organizations such as Kaiser, which participated in the press conference, to enforce the vaccination mandate.
In announcing the rule being put in place, Newsom said state officials were mindful of the Delta variant and that the state's positivity test, case and hospitalization rates had increased.
He added if the state continues to head in the same direction “the projections are sobering” as far as what could happen. That includes a “significant increase in hospitalizations,” Newsom said.
In also announcing the new rule while the state's positivity rate was half that of Texas and a third of the rate in Florida and the rest of the nation, it had still risen to 5.3 percent.
As far as what punishment state employees could face if they didn't comply with the requirements, Newsom said the process was in place and would be based on bargaining agreements.
Before now, state workers were allowed to self-attest they were vaccinated and weren't required to wear a mask, with exceptions that included prison workers. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported 52 percent of the state's 65,000 prison employees were vaccinated.
The new rule affects 240,000 who are employed by the state government and doesn't affect those who work at public universities or community colleges or those at K-12 public schools such as teachers. When asked if a vaccination mandate could be expanded to teachers, Newsom just said he encouraged teachers to be vaccinated.
And all public universities in the California State and University of California systems in the state are requiring all students and staff to be vaccinated to return to campus.
The American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association were among dozens of health care organizations that presented a letter on Monday stating all health care workers should be required to be vaccinated.
“We call for all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” the letter stated. “The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it.”
In June, the city of San Francisco required all of its employees to be vaccinated.
Newsom stated those who want sectors such as businesses to completely return to normal and for students to come back to school in a return to a completely normal format need to be vaccinated.
Newsom was asked if the state could go back to a hybrid system in which schools would offer in-person learning on a limited basis along with distance learning, Newsom reiterated his position all students in the state need to return to full, in-person learning.