San Rafael, CA – In response to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases across the region, Marin County Public Health today released a new health order requiring first responders to verify they are fully vaccinated or test weekly for the virus.
The order, effective September 15, applies to law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical (EMS) personnel and related staff who work in or may respond to emergency calls at high-risk settings such as hospitals, jails, nursing and congregate care facilities.
"We’ve seen that outbreaks in high risk settings, when they occur, are often sparked by infected staff or visitors who unknowingly bring the virus into the facility,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.
Because unvaccinated people are more likely to be infected and are required to be quarantined when they are exposed, workplace outbreaks can lead to serious staffing shortages in critical services.
“This measure protects the first responder workforce and the vulnerable residents they serve,” said Chris Le Baudour, Marin County Emergency Medical Services Administrator. “We don’t want ambulance, fire or law enforcement crews off-line because of preventable outbreaks.”
Marin County is seeing increased cases and hospitalizations, with over 90 percent of current cases being infected with the Delta variant. There are currently 18 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Marin County, which is the highest number since March of 2021. More than 90% of the county's hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the past two months have been unvaccinated.
On July 26, the California Department of Public Health issued an order requiring employers of high-risk healthcare and medical facilities to verify the vaccine status of all workers and requires that unvaccinated workers undergo routine COVID-19 testing. However, this order did not include Emergency Medical Services, law enforcement, or fire workers despite their critical role in public health and safety. The local order will help bridge that gap.
Today's order requires applicable first responder workers to either test weekly for COVID-19 and promptly provide the results to their employers, or provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.
In addition to the verify vaccination or test requirement for first responders, the today’s health order will require that all public sector employers to verify vaccination status of all employees, but routine testing of unvaccinated public sector employees is not required.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and to find a Marin County Public Health vaccine clinic near you, visit GetVaccinatedMarin.org.