The California State Assembly and Senate leaders have been incrementally ratcheting down on COVID mandates now that the State Capitol building is open. The Globe reported in June:
In August, the rules inside of the Capitol tightened:
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon Monday sent out a new letter to staff noting, “The great majority of staff – more than 80 percent – has already been fully vaccinated against COVID.” I’m proud that this rate is far above the state rate – about 54 percent. It makes our next step clear.”
Then Speaker Rendon dropped the hammer: “I am requiring, with the support of Assembly members, that by September 1 every Assembly employee begin the process of getting fully vaccinated.”
“This requirement is mandatory and violations may be subject to adverse action, up to and including termination of employment,” Speaker Rendon said.
The letter also says Assembly employees not vaccinated must get a COVID test every day they are at work in the Capitol building.
“All unvaccinated employees working in the Capitol or the Legislative Office Building (LOB) are required to have daily testing for infection until they have completed the vaccine regimen.”
And vaccinated employees are still required to be tested twice each week: “Vaccinated employees whose job requires floor and committee hearing participation will be tested twice a week. Once tested, staff must not report to their work stations until they receive a negative test result.”
“Having a fully vaccinated staff will make the California State Assembly a national leader in COVID safety,” Speaker Rendon said. “We cannot end COVID alone, but we can take steps to move us in the right direction and to lead by example. Acting together offers a way to get beyond this pandemic.”
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins didn’t go as far, but had the Senate Secretary Erika Contreras issue a written warning to Senate employees who are not vaccinated, or only partially vaccinated:
“The Senate is diligently tracking the vaccination rate of our employees in the Capitol, Legislative Office Building and district offices. Knowing the vaccine rate of our workforce is a vital piece of information when making decisions on health and safety protocols, as well as determining quarantine requirements if there is a positive case or exposure to COVID-19. The Senate has completed a review of all COVID-19 vaccine records we have received from Senate staff. It appears that at this time, we do not have a COVID-19 Vaccine Record Card on file from you.”
Contreras’ memo ordered fully vaccinated staff to “submit a copy of their vaccine ‘card’ to Capitol Health Services.”
There is no option in the memo for staff with medical exemptions, or those who had COVID and are opting not to get vaccinated.
“The Coercion and harsh tone of this letter is concerning,” a Senate staffer said to the Globe. “Received this from a colleague who is vaccinated but hasn’t turned in their card. I’m telling you I think we are living in Animal Farm.”
Following Speaker Rendon’s letter to Assembly staff, an Assembly staffer said that the Speaker’s memo obviously went out without the stamp of approval from Human Resources, given that he’s not addressing the many COVID breakthrough cases of fully vaccinated Capitol staff.
The staff member sent the Globe this memo from Assembly Chief Administrative Officer Debra Gravert, sent to unvaccinated Capitol employees:
From: “Gravert, Debra” <Debra.Gravert@asm.ca.gov>
Date: August 16, 2021 at 17:22:48 PDT
Subject: Required Testing
Capitol Health Services Clinic nurses do not have documentation on file showing that you are fully vaccinated, therefore, if you are coming into the office, you are required to test every day (or on the days that you come in if it?s not every day) starting tomorrow.
Testing schedule for tomorrow, August 17 through Friday, September 10 will be Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. in the Eureka Room.
If you have not tested with the Capitol Health Services Clinic in the past 10 days, the link to register is: https://my.primary.health/l/assembly. You only need to register once (please use your Assembly email address and not your personal email address). After that, just drop in during testing hours, provide your name, show your Assembly ID badge, and be tested. You will receive your results via text or email.
If you are fully vaccinated, you are required to submit a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to the Capitol Health Services Clinic nurses, even if you are telecommuting.Several options are available to you:
1) Email a copy to email@example.com.
2) Drop off a photocopy to the nurses in the Capitol Health Services Clinic, State Capitol, Room 5034.
3) Go to the Capitol Health Services Clinic and show the nurses your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or a copy of it. You can get a digital copy by going to https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/.
Provide no more information than necessary as proof of vaccination (i.e., just your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, but nothing else that would disclose an underlying medical condition).
One Capitol employee expressed frustration with the Assembly and Senate leaders ignoring those who have medical exemptions from the vaccine, noting they appear to be practicing medicine without a license.Speaker Memo to Assemblymembers and Assembly Staff 8-16-21