Contra Costa County officials announced Friday that the county will now require first responders to verify their COVID-19 vaccination status or submit to regular testing for the virus.
The order from Contra Costa Health Services will go into effect Sept. 17 and will apply to all law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who may respond to emergencies at facilities that have been deemed high-risk, like hospitals, jails and nursing homes.
The order also applies to ambulance workers who provide medical transport to and from the relevant facilities even in non-emergency situations.
First responders that do not prove their full vaccination by Sept. 17 will be required to test for the virus at least once per week. Employers will also be required to keep vaccine records for applicable employees.
“These facilities are sensitive because they are densely populated, often with people who are at high risk of serious illness or death if they become infected with COVID-19,” county Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in a statement. “Many of our first responders routinely visit multiple facilities, so there is a heightened risk of spreading the virus from one to another.”
County officials noted that while Contra Costa County is seeing a more broad surge in cases, the majority of which are among the unvaccinated, the county’s detention facilities in Martinez, Richmond and Clayton have experienced their own recent outbreaks that resulted in at least 69 COVID-19 cases among staff.
Many of the detention facility staff members and health workers that did test positive were also unvaccinated, according to the county.
Similar state and local orders are in effect for residents who work in health care facilities, nursing homes, homeless shelters, detention facilities and K-12 school campuses.
Information about how to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Contra Costa County can be found at https://coronavirus.cchealth.org/vaccine.