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Governor Youngkin outlines COVID-19 action plan

Governor Youngkin fields questions outside Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital
David Seidel
Radio IQ
Governor Youngkin fields questions outside Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital

Governor Glenn Youngkin says he’s directing additional resources to those who have yet to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

He’s released a series of steps to fight the pandemic, including hosting 120 vaccine events across the Commonwealth, deploying mobile vaccine units to rural areas, and directing the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to expedite orders for rapid tests.

An executive order signed by Youngkin also gives health care providers more flexibility to handle staffing shortages brought on by COVID. The measure also provides flexibility for qualified out-of-state nurses and other medical professionals to practice in Virginia.

It also expands the number of providers who can administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

The plan also discourages asymptomatic Virginians and those with mild symptoms from using tests amidst the continued shortage — especially for rapid tests. It calls for certain communities being prioritized for those tests — including students needing a test to remain in school and essential healthcare professionals.

The moves from the governor were met with praise from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. In a statement, officials thanked the governor for "taking the important step of issuing an Executive Order to authorize hospitals and health care providers to meet the challenges they currently face."

Youngkin made the announcement at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Here's the entire statement from the governor's office:

Governor Youngkin Announces Covid Action Plan

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced his COVID Action Plan concurrent with Executive Order Number Eleven to provide hospitals, health systems, nursing facilities, and other healthcare providers the tools necessary to combat COVID-19. The plan also includes issuing clear testing guidelines to prioritize the use of COVID rapid tests and marshalling further resources to encourage Virginians to get the vaccine.

“While many families have experienced tragedy over the last two years, Virginians have truly embodied the spirit of Virginia as they came together to fight a common enemy—COVID-19,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Today’s announcements are designed to give Virginians the tools and resources needed to make the best decisions for their families, strengthen our hospital systems, and ensure a strong recovery as we encounter new challenges associated with the pandemic that has become part of our everyday life.”

Click here to read a full copy of the COVID-19 Action Plan.

Click here to read a full copy of Executive Order #11

COVID-19 Vaccine Marshall Plan for Virginia

Governor Glenn Youngkin will devote additional resources and efforts to encouraging the nearly 1.6 million Virginians who are still unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that people vaccinated from COVID-19 are 4 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not. Governor Youngkin's actions include:

  • Directing the Secretary of Health to re-prioritize resources toward vaccine education and outreach, including expanded efforts in disproportionately unvaccinated communities.
  • Plan to host and attend COVID-19 vaccine events across the Commonwealth.
  • Working with Governors across the country to learn best practices on vaccine education.
  • Empowering Virginia with choices, not mandates.

Expanded Healthcare Flexibility & Support

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order #11 to give healthcare providers flexibility and support to battle staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unconstitutional federal mandates on healthcare workers. Virginia's hospitals and healthcare facilities are in crisis. Governor Youngkin's actions include:

  • Allowing hospitals and nursing homes to rapidly expand bed capacity by waiving regulations.
  • Providing flexibility for qualified out-of-state nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in Virginia.
  • Creating appropriate exemptions to scope of practice requirements to allow healthcare providers to care for patients in this difficult time.
  • Expanding the number of providers available to offer the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Expanding flexibility, overtime hours and availably for personal care workers.

Prioritized Testing Guidelines

Governor Glenn Youngkin will prioritize testing guidelines to mitigate supply-chain shortages for COVID-19 tests. The Governor will discourage mass testing for the purposes of pre-screening, discourage asymptomatic individuals from testing, and urge healthy individuals with mild symptoms to stay home and use discretion on testing. Governor Youngkin's actions include:

  • Expedite pending orders of rapid tests.
  • Redeploy unused tests at state agencies and other non-essential facilities to schools, hospitals, and nursing facilities.
  • Directing the State Health Commissioner to issue new guidelines that prioritize the use of rapid tests for key categories including
    • Students potentially exposed to COVID-19 who need to test to remain in school.
    • Essential healthcare professional and other essential worker who need to be tested to return to work.
    • Vulnerable citizens including those in nursing facilities and over the age of 65.
    • Those with serious medical conditions and their caregivers.
    • Those who need to be tested after consultation with a healthcare provider.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Jeff Bossert is Radio IQ's Morning Edition host.
Nick Gilmore is a meteorologist, news producer and reporter/anchor for RADIO IQ.
David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.