New California COVID rules for hospital visitors take effect

A new rule goes into effect on Wednesday requiring anyone visiting a hospital or skilled nursing home in California to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Those who don’t could be turned away. It is part of a new state health order to protect vulnerable populations from the delta variant.

At the entrance of Regional Medical Center in San Jose, signs said effective August 11, California state mandate requires all visitors to show proof of the vaccine or a negative test result within 72 hours.

It’s not just this hospital but all hospitals in the state.

"This is an important step to take," said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County health officer. "Obviously our hospitals and acute care settings and skilled nursing facilities are high risk settings our tolerance for transmission in those settings are extremely low."

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The new rule is part of a state health order announced last week. It was overshadowed by news all healthcare workers in California must be vaccinated visitors may be unaware.

"Hopefully we can get the word out that vaccine card that everyone received when they are vaccinated is an important asset to carry with you now," said Dr. Willis.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center urged followers on social media to share the new policy.

Visitors can show their COVID vaccination card, a photo of the card on their phone or a digital record that includes a QR code. Not everyone agrees with it.

"Personally, I got vaccinated but hospitals asking that, that's probably a violation of your rights," said Jorge Perez of San Jose.

There are exceptions for visits when death may be imminent.

"There’s that small percentage of cases perhaps more harm to implement this if someone is at the end of their life needs that moment together to say goodbye," said Dr. Willis.

Right now, Sutter Health’s web site states partners or support people for women in labor must be vaccinated or tested.

Unlike airports, rapid testing for COVID is not available onsite at hospitals for now.

"I think our hope is that this would make hospitals feel safer," said Dr. Willis.

The order allows for outdoor visits without proof of vaccination or tests. Masks are still required regardless of vaccination status. Most hospitals are still limiting visitors.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or