This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist was preparing to test a patient’s sample for SARS-CoV-2, using the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)–PCR Diagnostic Panel. (James Gathany/CDC 2020)

Unvaccinated workers in schools, health care facilities and other settings with a high risk of COVID transmission will no longer have to test for the virus under updated workplace guidance from the California Department of Public Health.

Starting Sept. 17, unvaccinated employees and those who are not up to date on their booster vaccinations are not required to submit to a weekly COVID test.

According to the CDPH, the change aligns the state’s workplace safety guidance with current federal health guidance.

Vaccination is still required by the state for workers in health care facilities, long-term care facilities and prisons. Health care workers have been required to get vaccinated against COVID since August 2021.

CDPH Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon argued that the testing requirement is no longer necessary due to the state’s high vaccination rate and vaccines being available to every age group older than 6 months.

“While unvaccinated individuals remain at greatest risk of serious health consequences from COVID-19 infection, weekly testing of unvaccinated groups is no longer slowing the spread as it did earlier in the pandemic due to the more infectious Omicron variants,” Aragon said.

State officials continue to recommend that employers and schools provide testing to employees and students as needed. Some 10 million at-home COVID tests have already been distributed to the state’s K-12 schools, according to the CDPH.

As of Sept. 8, 72.1 percent of all California residents have completed their initial vaccination series, according to CDPH data. In addition, 58.8 percent of those who are fully vaccinated have also gotten at least one booster dose.