Contra Costa County to require COVID vaccine passports

Contra Costa County issued a health order Tuesday requiring patrons to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering businesses where they remove their masks to eat or drink or tend to breathe heavily from exercising.

The new health order will take effect Sept. 22. Among the businesses that fall under the vaccine mandate are restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, as well as gyms and fitness facilities such as yoga and dance studios.

Anyone age 12 and older who enters those businesses will need to show proof of full vaccination, including a photo ID and either a vaccination record card or photos of those cards. Without such proof, they must present a negative COVID-19 test result from the past three days.

Workers at those businesses also must show proof of full vaccination by Nov. 1 or test weekly for COVID-19.

Contra Costa will join San Francisco and Berkeley in demanding the so-called “vaccine passports.” San Jose won’t allow people into events of 50 or more people without a vaccine passport but hasn’t expanded the mandate to include restaurants, gyms, bars and other businesses.

It is the latest step by local public health officials to fight the surge of COVID-19 cases spurred by the delta variant, which struck the Bay Area and much of the nation this summer.

“This order is necessary now to save lives, protect our overburdened healthcare system, and slow the pandemic enough to keep our schools open,” Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, said in a written statement Tuesday. “Reducing community transmission of the virus now is key to preventing future spikes in cases from overwhelming our county’s hospitals during the winter months.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – June 3: Contra Costa Health Officer Chris Farnitano, pictured during a press conference on the steps of Everett Middle School in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, June 3, 2021. On Tuesday, Farnitano said in a statement that the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate would prevent “future spikes in cases from overwhelming our county’s hospitals during the winter months.” (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Although the number of COVID-19 cases has declined in Contra Costa County since the peak of the delta variant surge in July, the virus is still spreading among the community.

By Monday, the county had averaged about 39 new cases per 100,000 residents each day of the past week, according to data on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard. On average, only 2.6 cases per day were fully vaccinated people.

The county recorded 57 deaths from COVID-19 in August. Since vaccines first became available to Contra Costa residents in December, about 95.9% of all deaths have been unvaccinated people, according to county data.

About 79% of the county’s residents were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, with the lowest rates in cities such as Discovery Bay, Bethel Island and Knightsen.


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