Santa Clara County public health officials on Tuesday announced a new health order requiring up-to-date COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots for workers in higher-risk settings like health care facilities, jails and shelters amid a recent rise in cases related to the more-contagious omicron variant of the virus.
Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s health officer, said case rates in Santa Clara County have nearly tripled in less than two weeks since a briefing when she warned of a “deluge of omicron” cases of COVID-19.
“Today, unfortunately, that deluge is here,” Cody said at a briefing with other county officials in San Jose on Tuesday morning.
In response, workers in the higher-risk settings are mandated to have their vaccination status up-to-date by Jan. 24, earlier than the Feb. 1 deadline set in a similar state health order announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week.
If they do not get vaccinated or a booster shot by the deadline, they will be prohibited from working in higher-risk settings but can be reassigned to lower-risk settings, according to the county order.
Cody said hospitalizations have not yet increased sharply recently along with the spike in cases, but are often a lagging indicator and the order is meant to “help absorb the deluge” that may be coming to the county’s health care system.
She also encouraged everyone to continue taking safety precautions like wearing masks and staying socially distanced when possible, and advised people to avoid any large gatherings for the upcoming New Year’s Eve holiday.
“Even though we’re all a little weary, we are asking everyone to continue to do their part,” Cody said.
As of Tuesday, 52 percent of those eligible in the county have received their booster shot, with about 67 percent of those 65 and up having received the booster, she said.
The updated health order, as well as more information about COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, can be found online at https://covid19.sccgov.org.