CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (CBS SF) – First responders in Contra Costa County, including law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel, must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing starting next month.

The order issued by Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) goes into effect September 17 and applies to first responders who work or may respond to emergencies at “high-risk facilities such as hospitals, jails, nursing and congregate care facilities.”

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Officials said the requirement also applies to non-emergency ambulance workers who provide medical transport to the above locations.

“These facilities are sensitive because they are densely populated, often with people who are at high risk of serious illness or death if they become infected with COVID-19,” Contra Costa health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in a statement. “Many of our first responders routinely visit multiple facilities, so there is a heightened risk of spreading the virus from one to another.”

The order comes as the county reports a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the highly infectious Delta variant, particularly among the unvaccinated. According to CCHS, the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases has risen 30% in the past two weeks.

Officials said COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported recently in the county’s detention facilities in Martinez, Richmond and Clayton. At least 69 positive cases were reported among jail staff and health workers, with most of the positive tests among those who have not received the COVID-19 shots.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations are also on the rise in the county, nearly two months after the state’s full reopening of the economy. As of Wednesday, 188 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, up 400% from a month earlier.

Among those hospitalized, more than 80% were not vaccinated, officials said.

Late last month, Contra Costa County issued a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for people working in healthcare settings, nursing and residential care facilities, homeless shelters and detention facilities. Since then, the state of California has since issued its own requirement for state employees and workers in the health care sector to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccination requirements have also been issued to workers in the education sector statewide and among numerous employers, both public and private.

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Since the start of the pandemic, at least 81,406 people in Contra Costa County have been infected with COVID-19 and 846 people have died.