Starting Wednesday, all visitors to select medical facilities will be required to provide evidence of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter, according to a new Health Officer Order released from the California Department of Public Health last week.
The new order applies to general acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities. For indoor visitation, visitors to these medical centers will be required to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test that was completed within 72 hours of the visit.
In Santa Barbara County, the order will apply to Cottage Health facilities in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez, as well as at Marian Regional Medical Center and Lompoc Valley Medical Center starting on Wednesday.
The new order will be enacted just a few days after the CDPH announced a vaccine mandate for all health workers, making California the first state to enact a vaccine requirement in health care settings.
Due to surging case rates statewide associated with the highly-transmissible delta variant, CDPH Director Tomás Aragón said the vaccine mandate for health workers and the requirement for hospital visitors was necessary to keep patients and medical personnel safe.
“While there is currently a significant increase in the community transmission of COVID-19 in California, vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective means of preventing further infections, transmission and outbreaks,” Dr. Aragón said in a statement. “As we respond to the dramatic increase in cases, transmission prevention measures must be increased for the protection of the patients in the facilities referenced in this Order. This can be done by reducing the risk that visitors to these facilities are bringing COVID-19 from the community and introducing it into these settings.”
According to the order, hospital visitors can show proof of vaccination by presenting a COVID-19 vaccination record card, a photo of the vaccination card either on a device or printed, documentation of vaccination from a health care provider or through a digital record that can access medical information via QR code.
In addition to the vaccination or testing requirement, all hospital visitors are required to wear a well-fitting mask upon entry.