CA lawmaker calls for mandating vaccines for all public employees amid COVID outbreak at Capitol

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A Democratic California state senator is pushing for all public employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol Monday amid a coronavirus outbreak that has infected those who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated, KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento reported.

“We have a responsibility to the public to take public health precautions for ourselves, for our co-workers, and to protect members of the public,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.

Wiener is calling on all public employees, including elected officials, to get vaccinated.

“Whether we are elected officials or legislative staffers. Whether we are firefighters or police officers or working at the DMV or homeless outreach workers, we are all interacting with the public. And we also are keeping the government open and working and functioning,” Wiener explained.

The push comes as nine State Capitol employees and staff members in the Assembly have tested positive for coronavirus within about a week.

The last two people who tested positive were fully vaccinated and wearing masks, according to a recent memo sent over the weekend.

“I think they’re recovering, as we’ve seen with many people,” said Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore.

Melendez weighed in Monday on the push to vaccinate public employees.

“I’ve always believed that vaccination is a personal choice, and I understand those who are very fearful of getting this virus. And really, they would prefer that everyone get vaccinated, whether that’s public employees or private employees, but that’s not reasonable,” Melendez said.

While the coronavirus strains of the State Capitol cases are unknown, the effort to contain the outbreak comes as California’s most dominant strain became the infectious delta variant.

The state’s positivity rate is increasing slightly, at 1.5% as of Monday. State data shows about 60% of California’s population is fully vaccinated.

Currently, state lawmakers say there are no plans to push legislation mandating public employees get vaccinated, but Wiener pointed to San Francisco’s vaccine requirement for all city workers as an example.

“We should be seeing that more broadly,” Wiener said. “Agencies should be mandating it and so forth. It’s not about legislation.”

“It would be a tough sell, certainly, but that has never stopped people before from bringing forward bills that aren’t necessarily popular,” Melendez said.

California health officials say the state has prepared for slight increases in cases and hospitalizations but as of Monday, there is no anticipation of any threat to the state’s health care system capacity.

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