LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - As more local businesses opt to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests to enter their establishments, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote next week on whether to require all county employees to show their vaccination status or submit to weekly tests.
The Equinox Group, which also owns Soul Cycle, is the latest company to adopt proof of vaccination for members to enter their gyms starting next month.
"I think in a situation like this where you're trying to workout with a mask, it's just so difficult to do it with a mask, and if that's the solution for people, I'm okay with that," an Equinox gym member said.
In a statement, Equinox Group said it surveyed both members and employees. The results came back with 96% of its members responding that they are fully vaccinated, as is 89% of the company's staff. The statement goes on to say, "While these results are promising , leading and driving meaningful change is more important than ever."
Other businesses, though, like Laemmle Theaters, don't feel like they have the capacity to create a vaccine mandate for customers.
"I'm not a health expert," Greg Laemmle, the theater company's president, said. "We're more than happy to comply with what health experts come up with, but also we're a small business and really trying to understand what's an effective way of verifying vaccination status is going to require a larger amount of organization than we can bring to bear."
Emily Morris, a licensed clinical social worker in the ICU at Cedars Sinai, said that beds in intensive care are filling up.
"Stressed, stretched, people are sick without COVID, so to add the COVID sickness on top of it, we are reaching max capacity. We are already in a place where we are creating new spaces for more patients," Morris said, "...and it's kind of scary because we are all so terrified to go back into that place of not having enough beds."
Whether it's the gym or proving full vaccination for a dinner reservation, Morris said that getting the vaccine could save people's lives.
"I would say over the last year and a half, I've probably had hundreds of people die that I've worked with, which I think is why right now is really hard for all of us, because the last wave we didn't have access to vaccines for everyone," she said. "But I think now, this wave, it's a different feeling of just frustration because the general public does know what to do to protect themselves."
Morris added that it's heartbreaking because at the start of the pandemic, there was a lot of praise for the risk healthcare workers were taking.
"...and now, it just kind of feels like a slap in the face," she said.
In the meantime, LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn will submit a motion to require all county employees, some 100,000 people, be vaccinated or test weekly.
"In addition, we will be mandating that all healthcare employees get vaccinated. We will add COVID-19 as one of the viruses to the list that healthcare workers have to be vaccinated against," she said.
The public will be able to comment on the motion next Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors Meeting. If the board votes to approve the motion, the county will have 15 days to come up with a plan.
Hahn said she doesn't see the board mandating businesses to require the same right now, but hopes they join the fight with the county.
The LA County Department of Public Health Office of Communications & Public Affairs said over email, "The County is not requiring proof of vaccination for customers to enter specific businesses at this point in time. We applaud those businesses that are assessing risks to their employees and customers and adding additional layers of protection, including requiring proof of vaccination."
Asked if the city has any plans to mandate vaccines at indoor businesses like New York City has, Alex Comisar, Deputy Communications Director for Mayor Eric Garcetti, released the following statement:
"The Mayor always listens to the guidance from County public health experts on these issues, and there is no such mandate recommended or planned at this time. But with cases and hospitalizations rising rapidly, we are not taking anything off the table. The Mayor strongly urges everyone to get vaccinated, and supports businesses that are taking steps to keep their workers and customers safe."
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