SACRAMENTO, California. – At least nine people who work at the California State Capitol tested positive for the coronavirus last week, including four who are fully vaccinated, triggering a return of the mask mandate for lawmakers and staff.
When the Capitol reopened last month, masks were still required in public places like hallways, committee rooms and legislative chambers. But fully vaccinated lawmakers and staff have been allowed to remove their masks while working in their offices.
That changed this week after the outbreak. The new directive applies not only to the Capitol, but also to the legislative office building and the district offices of legislators. Lawmakers and unvaccinated staff should also be tested twice a week, according to notes from the state Assembly and Senate.
It appears that the outbreak is occurring among State Assembly workers, although no official has confirmed that all nine cases occurred among these workers.
Debra Galvert, the assembly’s executive director, said in a memo last week that seven cases involved people working in the same office. Senate Secretary Erika Contreras said this chamber had no “pending cases”.
Last month, with infection rates at record highs, Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted nearly all state restrictions on coronaviruses. But recently, public health officials have warned that the particularly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has spread rapidly among the unvaccinated population, causing an increase in new cases and hospitalizations.
Los Angeles County public health officials have urged people to resume wearing masks indoors, regardless of their immunization status. Newsom is not now considering the return of a statewide mask warrant or other restrictions.
“Well, if we keep getting people vaccinated, it will be pointless,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the call to all those who have not been vaccinated: get vaccinated. What other proof do you need? “
Anyone aged 12 and over is eligible for the vaccine. So far, about 70% of that population in California has received at least one dose.
On Capitol Hill, four of the nine cases were fully vaccinated people, a much higher percentage of so-called revolutionary cases than the small number statewide. Between January 1 and June 30, the state identified 8,699 cases of coronavirus among those fully vaccinated. This represents 0.043% of the more than 20 million people who have received the vaccine.
“Fully vaccinated” means that a person is at least two weeks away from their final dose of the vaccine.
Among those groundbreaking cases, at least 652 people have been hospitalized – although the public health ministry said it was missing hospitalization data in about half of the cases. Another 71 people who had been fully vaccinated have died, but state health officials said they were unsure whether the coronavirus was the leading cause of death.
“Although COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, some cases are still expected in people who have been vaccinated because no vaccine is 100% effective,” the Department of Public Health wrote on its website .