Contra Costa to require first responders to be vaccinated or regularly tested

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All first responders must be fully vaccinated, or test weekly for the virus, starting Sept. 17, according to a new public order in Contra Costa County.

The order “applies to law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who work in or may respond to emergency calls at high-risk facilities such as hospitals, jails, nursing and congregate care facilities,” the County said. “It also applies to non-emergency ambulance workers who provide medical transport for such facilities.”

On July 27, a similar order took effect for workers in healthcare facilities, nursing and residential care facilities, homeless shelters and detention facilities. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued similar vaccine verification requirements for state employees, healthcare workers and educators at K-12 campuses.

Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer, said the order involving first responders aims to protect people in facilities that are at high risk of serious illness or death if they become infected with COVID-19. The average daily number of confirmed new cases in Contra Costa has increased 30 percent in the past two weeks, the County said.

“There were 188 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Contra Costa County on Aug. 11, an increase of more than 400% from July 11,” the County said. “More than 80 percent of the county’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated.”