As the United States experiences another surge in coronavirus infections fueled by the rise of the delta variant, the Los Angeles Lakers have joined a growing list of corporations mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all full-time employees who work in their offices, with “limited exceptions.”
The Lakers joined with several other professional sports franchises and ticketing venues in Southern California to announce the news in the following statement:
CEOs from the two largest live entertainment and ticketing companies, and ownership of five Southern California professional sports franchises have each decided to require that all full-time employees working at eligible company offices in the U.S. be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions as required by law.
The organizations include Live Nation Entertainment, AEG, Goldenvoice, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, AXS, Los Angeles Lakers, LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Chargers. Each organization has or will be implementing policies designed to expand on health department guidelines and ensure the best interests of employees.
In addition to mandating vaccines for full-time U.S. office employees, these organizations are working closely with public health officials to ensure that they are following or exceeding the latest guidance as it relates to vaccination, testing and masking requirements for fans and event staff in their venues.
“We must work together and across sectors to ensure that we are increasing vaccination rates especially now as we see an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions due to the highly contagious Delta variant,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective means of preventing infection from COVID-19 virus, and subsequent transmission and outbreaks. These organizations are setting a good example for other companies, and I applaud their efforts.”
This news follows companies like Disney, Google, Facebook, Walmart and others requiring their own employees returning to offices to get the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a growing movement in corporate America.
This requirement will not apply to players — at least not yet — as not only are they not office employees, but they are also represented by a powerful union, the NBPA, which would need to negotiate with the league and collectively bargain any new mandates for players.
The Lakers did reach the threshold of having 85% of their roster and traveling party fully vaccinated by the end of the 2020-21 season, but have almost entirely overhauled their roster, so it is unclear whether they would still meet that benchmark when the new season begins. At least two of their new additions, Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore, have expressed vaccine hesitancy in the past.
As my colleagues at Vox.com point out, “more than 60 percent of adults — and 80 percent of people over 65 — are fully vaccinated, giving them excellent protection against severe illness or death from Covid; so far less than 0.004 percent of fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized with Covid, and less than 0.001 percent have died.”
For more information on the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, and for help in making an appointment to get the vaccine in Los Angeles, visit the County of Los Angeles Public Health website.