Phyllis Kimber Wilcox | Voice News
COVID-19 restrictions were lifted June 15, California is open, and things are getting back to normal in the state–that is certainly good news for businesses; however with so many still unvaccinated against the virus and growing uncertainty about virus variants, it is important to know what to do to stay safe.
More than 70 percent of the state’s adult population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 47.23 percent of adult residents are now fully vaccinated according to usfacts.org.
For those who remain vaccinated, it is not because there is a shortage of vaccine supply. Currently there are nearly 5.5 million doses available and ready to be administered. As a result the state continues its efforts to break through barriers of vaccine resistance and hesitance.
Status of Students
Children are required to wear masks in school and daycare settings. California did not require schools to reopen for in-person instruction during the current school year. As a result, the state experienced a notable decline in enrollment according to the California Department of Education 2020–21 Statewide School Enrollment Data.
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Statewide K-12 enrollment dropped by more than 160,000 students from the prior year’s enrollment. California has proven to be one of the slowest in the country when it comes to reopening schools.
More About Masks
Masks are no longer required outdoors and the fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks inside of business establishments unless owners require them to do so.
There are, however, still places where masks are required such as buses and other forms of public transportation or conveyance, including airport terminals. Masks are also still required in hospitals, medical facilities and other settings where there might be large groups of people.
In addition, people who are not vaccinated must wear masks inside businesses, restaurants and anywhere groups might gather. The unvaccinated may only remove their masks during meals and when alone.
Employers must verify their employees’ vaccination status. Fully vaccinated employees may not be required to wear masks in most workplaces. Masks, however, are also still required in long-term-care facilities, homeless shelters, emergency shelters, cooling centers, correctional facilities and detention centers.
There are concerns by unions and others that these requirements may impinge upon individuals’ freedom to medical confidentiality. There are also concerns that removing mask mandates may be premature and expose workers to further unnecessary risks.
Employers are still required to provide masks and other safety equipment to unvaccinated workers, prompting concerns from employers over the cost of continuing to supply this equipment to their employees.
Despite the state’s progress on vaccinations, California has fallen short of vaccinating the 70 to 80 percent of the total population required to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
For this reason, in addition to uncertainty regarding the potential future impact of COVID-19 variants, all working people should check the California Department of Public Health COVID-19 guidelines for face coverings and/or CDC Covid 19 guidelines for appropriate instructions on how to stay safe in the workplace.
Phyllis Kimber-Wilcox is a reporter for the IE Voice and Black Voice News. Her interests are the intersections of historic events with contemporary realities and their impacts on the persistent social, structural and economic barriers which continue to adversely affect and limit Black lives with an eye toward community-based solutions.