February 8, 2023

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

L.A. mulls requiring vaccine proof in indoor public places

Los Angeles will consider a proposal to require proof of COVID-19 inoculation as a condition of entry at a host of indoor public spaces in what, if passed, would be the widest-ranging vaccination-verification effort in the city yet.

The motion, introduced Wednesday by council President Nury Martinez and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, would require eligible individuals to demonstrate that they’ve received at least one vaccination dose to visit indoor places such as restaurants, bars, retail stores, gyms, spas, movie theaters, stadiums and concert venues.

“Enough is enough already,” Martinez said in a statement. “Hospital workers are exhausted, moms who have put aside their careers are tired, and our kids cannot afford the loss of another school year. We have three vaccines that work and are readily available, so what’s it going to take? Our kids are about to return to school, and the unvaccinated are putting their lives at risk every day. Ask your questions, talk to your doctor and get the vaccine. Let’s put this behind us.”

Officials in New York City announced Tuesday that they would implement similar vaccination-verification requirements. And L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer, a mayoral candidate, penned a letter that same day urging county officials to also require proof of vaccination to visit the gym, eat in a restaurant or attend an indoor performance.

“Hard-working Angelenos, their customers and the general public deserve to be safe in public spaces,” O’Farrell said in a statement. “The vaccines are our most effective form of protection, and the time to act is now.”

The move comes as more public agencies and private sector firms as well as retailers and restaurants are also beginning to require proof of employees’ or patrons’ inoculation status.

Two Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday proposed a vaccination-verification requirement for more than 100,000 government workers, a day after health giant Kaiser Permanente announced it was making vaccinations mandatory for all employees and physicians, as nearly a quarter of its 240,000 employees remain uninoculated.

As of now, California has not implemented the sort of widespread vaccination-verification now planned in New York City, where officials announced Tuesday that they will require proof of inoculation status to enter gyms, indoor entertainment venues and restaurants.

When asked about New York’s decision, the California Department of Public Health responded: “California led the way by requiring vaccine verification of state and health care employees and continues to encourage local governments and business to follow suit. State guidelines allow community leaders to establish rules based on local conditions.”

L.A. County is also “not requiring proof of vaccination for customers to enter specific businesses at this point in time,” though public health officials added in a statement Tuesday that they “applaud those businesses that are assessing risks to their employees and customers and adding additional layers of protection, including requiring proof of vaccination.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti “always listens to the guidance from county public health experts on these issues, and there is no such mandate recommended or planned at this time,” according to spokesman Alex Comisar.

“But with cases and hospitalizations rising rapidly, we are not taking anything off the table,” Comisar said. “The mayor strongly urges everyone to get vaccinated, and supports businesses that are taking steps to keep their workers and customers safe.”

Here are some early indications that vaccinate requirements could be working.

From July 25 to 31, providers throughout California administered an average of nearly 44,000 first vaccine doses per day, according to data compiled by The Times.

That’s up notably from the previous week, when an average of about 37,300 first doses were doled out daily; and a 41% increase from two weeks ago, when the average was just under 31,100.

These figures cover both those who received their initial dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

California’s vaccination pace still lags far behind its springtime peak, however. Over the week of April 4-10, for example, providers were administering roughly 251,000 first doses per day, on average.