A person getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Chris Stone

The city of Encinitas is the latest entity to require COVID-19 vaccines or regular negative tests for employees, bringing the North County city in step with the city and county of San Diego, which have installed similar policies, it was announced Tuesday.

Beginning Monday, all Encinitas employees will need to either provide documentation confirming they are fully vaccinated or be required to show negative COVID-19 tests each week. Should case numbers continue to rise throughout the county, the city may require additional testing of unvaccinated employees. Further, COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all employees within 45 days of full FDA approval. Masks are already required for all employees and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

“The city of Encinitas is firmly committed to the health and safety of its employees and the public they serve,” City Manager Pamela Antil said. “Many city employees work with the public and have regular contact with persons who could be classified as vulnerable to COVID-19. It is our responsibility to do our part to keep our employees and our community as safe as possible.”

San Diego County’s latest COVID-19 numbers show 1,095 new cases and one additional hospitalization but no new virus-related deaths — as county leaders encouraged employers to require workers to either show proof of vaccination or get weekly testing.

Meanwhile, reports Monday night said the Biden administration is poised to recommend booster shots for most vaccinated Americans eight months after they became fully vaccinated — a process that reportedly would begin in mid- to late September.

The Washington Post reported that federal health and science officials “are coalescing around the view that people will need the boosters eight months after being fully vaccinated.” Particulars of the plan were still being developed, according to reports.

San Diego County’s proof-of-vaccination recommendation came one day before the county began collecting vaccination proof from its 18,000 employees Tuesday, and before the requirement goes into effect next Monday.

County employees unwilling or unable to receive the vaccine will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing and are required to wear masks while indoors.

Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher mentioned the possibility of penalties attached to fraudulent proof, but said the county is still in negotiations as to what that might be.

The Delta variant of the virus is considerably more contagious than previous strains and now comprises 95% of the virus’ genome, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said at a news conference Monday.

“We are in the middle of the surge right now,” she said, referring to a spike in coronavirus infections in recent weeks far outpacing last summer’s surge and matching the early trajectory of last fall and winter’s spike.

“It will get worse before it gets better,” Wooten said.

Monday’s data bring the county’s total case count to 315,348 since the pandemic began. The death toll remained at 3,824.

In the last 30 days, 92% of COVID-19 cases have occurred in those not fully vaccinated. Of the remaining 8%, San Diego County Chief Medical Officer Eric McDonald said, few are showing symptoms and those are relatively mild.

One additional patient was in intensive care as a result of the virus, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

Of all those hospitalized in the past 30 days, 98% are unvaccinated.

While San Diego County is not experiencing the strain that other parts of California and other states are, Fletcher reminded people to continue to take the pandemic seriously, as many hospitals in the region were facing staffing shortages — at least partially attributed to burnout and fatigue.

“We know the vaccine is the safest and most effective way to avoid becoming sick,” Fletcher said. “The risk to those fully vaccinated is exceedingly low.”

A total of 15,095 tests were reported Monday, and the percentage of new positive tests over the past week was 8.6%.

–City News Service

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