Gov. Brown: Healthcare workers must take weekly COVID-19 tests if unvaccinated

Governor Kate Brown announced Wednesday that she's directed the Oregon Health Authority to enact a new rule requiring healthcare workers to get tested regularly if they do not provide proof of vaccination.

Posted: Aug 4, 2021 2:03 PM
Updated: Aug 4, 2021 2:17 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown announced Wednesday that she's directed the Oregon Health Authority to enact a new rule requiring healthcare workers to get tested regularly if they do not provide proof of vaccination.

The proposed rule would require that staff in healthcare settings undergo weekly coronavirus testing, which can be waived with proof of vaccination. Brown's office said that the rule will be issued later this week, but the requirement will not go into effect until September 30 — giving employers time to adjust to the policy and giving "currently unvaccinated healthcare workers time to become fully vaccinated."

“The more contagious Delta variant has changed everything. This new safety measure is necessary to stop Delta from causing severe illness among our first line of defense: our doctors, nurses, medical students, and frontline health care workers. Protecting our frontline health care workers through vaccination will also enhance the safety of the patients in their care,” said Governor Brown.

Brown's office said that the new rule applies broadly to staff in healthcare settings, whether their contact with patients or infectious materials is direct or indirect. California has implemented vaccination and testing requirements for state workers, and Brown's office said that they are looking at similar measures.

“Severe illness from COVID-19 is now largely preventable, and vaccination is clearly our best defense," Brown continued. "Vaccination and weekly testing ensure Oregonians can safely access health care and employees can go to work in an environment that maximizes health and safety measures for COVID-19.”

The announcement received immediate support from both the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems and the Oregon Nurses Association.

"This is a reasonable and sensible approach which respects the individual choices of health care workers while also protecting public health," said Scott Palmer of the Oregon Nurses Association. "ONA believes COVID-19 vaccinations are critical to protecting our members, our patients, our families and our communities and we urge all Oregonians who can get vaccinated to do so now."

Oregon state law currently prohibits employers in the healthcare field from mandating vaccinations for their workers, but Brown's office said that they intend to work with lawmakers and other stakeholders to "address this issue" for the February 2022 legislative session — a change for which Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of OAHHS, has expressed support.

In the meantime, Brown asked both public and private employers to find other ways to encourage vaccination against COVID-19.

“As we have throughout this pandemic, we are learning to adapt to the new reality the Delta variant has created," Brown said. "I am encouraging Oregon cities, counties, businesses, and employers to think creatively, and to implement measures such as paid time off for vaccination, and incentives for employees, in addition to instituting masking requirements and other health and safety measures in the workplace. I am doing the same with the State of Oregon’s workforce, and I expect employers to find ways to remove barriers to easy access to vaccination.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313161

Reported Deaths: 3594
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah51245642
Washington34995276
Marion32577393
Clackamas26570271
Lane23989246
Jackson20977257
Deschutes16623102
Umatilla12602125
Douglas10712188
Linn1046886
Josephine8659165
Yamhill744999
Klamath643491
Polk623570
Malheur479467
Benton461927
Coos412069
Columbia324237
Jefferson313746
Lincoln276330
Union272737
Wasco239039
Crook212338
Clatsop211725
Tillamook181523
Baker174421
Morrow167921
Curry166817
Hood River163035
Harney78916
Grant7558
Lake6768
Wallowa50811
Gilliam1374
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4644566

Reported Deaths: 68019
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144512125852
Riverside3579884804
San Diego3495814009
San Bernardino3472035506
Orange3146225354
Sacramento1503072089
Santa Clara1405641841
Fresno1358611888
Kern1358421515
Alameda1162141329
Ventura976901120
San Joaquin973871615
Contra Costa95727924
Stanislaus806991234
Tulare72969896
San Mateo52239607
San Francisco51907605
Monterey49465565
Solano44151312
Santa Barbara43112500
Sonoma39441378
Merced39370535
Placer36487364
Imperial34261755
Kings30124284
San Luis Obispo28300313
Madera21707258
Butte21307230
Shasta20683276
Santa Cruz20151211
Yolo19143239
Marin17106242
El Dorado16004127
Sutter13094153
Napa1226895
Yuba926061
Nevada847685
Humboldt829587
Tehama823784
San Benito709067
Mendocino685575
Lassen637627
Tuolumne615393
Lake603687
Amador492259
Glenn398030
Siskiyou389541
Calaveras342266
Del Norte336034
Colusa290918
Inyo166539
Mono14935
Plumas12406
Mariposa99712
Trinity72010
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1650
Alpine1000
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