COVID mandates, burnout collide with worker shortages across California

Registered nurses listen to speakers during a National Nurses United rally at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland on March 11, 2020. Photo by Jane Tyska, Bay Area News Group

Employee burnout and resistance to vaccine mandates are colliding across California, leading to strike authorizations, walkouts and worker shortfalls in health care, education, transportation and logistics, hospitality, retail, entertainment and law enforcement.

This week, nearly a third of California hospitals reported critical staffing shortages to the federal government as thousands of exhausted workers walked off the job and onto the picket line, CalMatters’ Kristen Hwang reports. Their primary grievance? Inadequate staffing levels.

Meanwhile, nearly 200 San Francisco police officers and firefighters who remained unvaccinated ahead of the city’s Wednesday deadline will now be put on paid leave — hobbling departments already operating below recommended staffing levels.

Today, California’s requirement that teachers be vaccinated or tested weekly goes into effect. Some educators who oppose the mandate are planning to participate in a nationwide walkout on Monday, forcing some campuses —including Oak Run Elementary in Shasta County — to close.

Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school district, is also running up against its own deadline: It will not allow employees to return to campus on Monday if they don’t receive at least one vaccine dose by today. But thousands of educators have yet to get the shot — and the district already has thousands of existing vacancies.

Also Monday, film and TV production could come to a halt across the country if the union representing Hollywood crews doesn’t reach an agreement with the producers’ alliance.

But the state prison guards’ union — which, with the backing of Gov. Gavin Newsom, is challenging a federal judge’s order mandating vaccines for prison employees — got another reprieve Thursday, when a superior court judge temporarily blocked a state vaccine mandate for correctional officers working in or near prison health care settings.

Meanwhile, federal data released Thursday shows that for the week ending Oct. 9, California accounted for more than 27% of new unemployment claims filed nationally. More than 67,000 Californians filed new jobless claims — an increase of more than 3,000 from the week before.

The coronavirus bottom line: As of Wednesday, California had 4,565,279 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 70,010 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to state data. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 50,896,327 vaccine doses, and 71.7% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *