Big Day in CA: June 15
Last updated 6/11/2021 at 9:38am
June 15 is a big day in the state of California, one that many have been longing for in this coronavirus journey, a step forward in a better direction.
This date is when the state will ease its mask mandate to allow fully vaccinated people to surpass wearing face coverings in most places, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services Secretary. This is also when California will lift capacity limits on businesses, permitting the state to fully reopen for the first time in nearly a year.
The state said they will not follow the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Ghaly highlighted counties and private businesses can choose to keep tougher mask rules in place.
In addition to the rules, the state is figuring out whether people should be required to show proof of vaccination in order to be maskless in certain stores/areas.
The state has required people to wear masks in public places since June 18 of last year.
Millions of Californians have been vaccinated, and in efforts to get more people to be, Governor Gavin Newsom announced an incentive program worth $116.5 million in prizes. The first batch of winners were announced where 15 people won $50,000 for $1.5 million in total. On June 15, the state will draw 10 more winners who will receive $1.5 million for a total of $15 million.
Two million Californians who have not gotten vaccinated will be eligible to get a $50 gift card if they get vaccinated by June 15. The $100 million in gift cards will be distributed when they are fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks or more after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after your single-dose of the J&J vaccine.
In San Diego County, an incentive includes winning a pair of tickets to attend a Padres game. The county and team are teaming up to award 100 pairs of tickets. On June 12 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and June 26 from noon to 4 p.m., the county and the Padres will hold a vaccination event at Gallagher Square outside Petco Park, where the first 1,000 people to get a shot on both days will receive commemorative T-shirts.
San Diego County’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is currently 1.7 cases per 100,000 residents, placing the County in the Yellow Tier for one week before June 15 full reopening date.
The County needs to have two weeks with a case rate of fewer than two cases per 100,000 residents to fully move into the Yellow Tier.
San Diego County has had 280,742 confirmed cases and 3,764 deaths.
In addition to controversial issues, California workplace regulators approved rules on June 3 that would allow workers to go maskless only if every employee in a room is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, rules that are much stricter than state and federal guidelines.
But the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board made clear that the regulations are only a “stopgap” while they consider further easing pandemic rules in the coming weeks, even months.
The new rules are expected to take effect on June 15, the same day the state more broadly loosens masking and other precautions in social settings.
However, the state safety board’s staff says conditions are different among workers, leading to their proposed rule that even vaccinated employees remain masked unless everyone else in their workspace is inoculated.
Helen Cleary, director of the Phylmar Regulatory Roundtable, a coalition of large businesses, called it “astonishing” that the staff didn’t align with guidelines from federal and state health officials, describing the Cal/OSHA proposal as a “rogue public policy.”
The California Chamber of Commerce is also expressed their disregard to the rules proposed.
“If you are fully vaccinated, (under CDC recommendations) you don’t need to wear a mask inside or outside. That’s the science!” Chamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg said in a statement. “Under these (proposed Cal/OSHA) rules, workers’ freedoms will be controlled by their fellow workers’ decisions to get vaccinated, not by their own choices.”
“Starting June 15, vaccinated individuals will be able to go to most public settings without having to wear masks, even if other unvaccinated individuals are present,” they wrote. “But vaccinated employees at that same location will have to wear a mask.”
That sets up “an inconsistent standard” between members of the public and employees, the chamber and more than five dozen other business organizations said in a letter to the board.
“A very large proportion of California employees will remain unvaccinated as of June 15, 2021,” the staff said in its recommendation. “Due to changes in social norms, as mask-wearing and physical distancing decline among fully vaccinated people, those precautions are likely to decline among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people as well.”
Later, the seven-member board unanimously adopted the revised regulations while a three-member subcommittee considered more changes. The decision comes after major business groups and dozens of individuals spent hours urging the board to further lift pandemic regulations. A board member said they need to create reasonable and enforceable standards.
The board plans to regroup at its June 17 meeting, but further revising the rules will be a lengthier process. The subcommittee will try to craft acceptable revisions that then must be drafted by Cal/OSHA employees before a public review. Without a further revision, the revised rules could remain in place early next year, even though the virus cases have fallen.
The Cal/OSHA regulations apply in almost every workplace in the state, including those in an office, factories and retail. Worker advocates at the board’s hearing said regulators should continue protections for vulnerable employees, while board members said they were inclined to keep safeguards for fear of another surge or emerging virus mutations.
Employer organizations were additionally critical of a proposed rule that starting July 31 would require them to provide the most effective N95 masks for voluntary use by employees who are working indoors or at outdoor mega events and are not fully vaccinated.
That will require employers to track workers’ vaccination status and stockpile masks in competition with health care workers and as the state’s wildfire season heats up.
But the Cal/OSHA staff said its proposed rules “would significantly reduce the number (of) COVID-19 related illnesses, disabilities and deaths in California’s workforce.”
We are on our way to change for the better, and in time we will all be back to normalcy. But we need to keep fighting, keep the train moving forward, and keep the light shining.