Virginia’s incoming governor talks priorities, pandemic response ahead of inauguration

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 11:28 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 12:07 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On Saturday, Glenn Youngkin will become Virginia’s 74th Governor. He does so with a list of campaign promises and the backdrop of an ever-changing pandemic.

“I’m really excited. I’m excited to get to work. We’ve got a big, big day one game plan and we’re going to put it all in motion,” said Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, (R) Virginia.

As soon as the governor-elect takes the oath of office, you can expect a slew of executive actions from his new administration this weekend.

Youngkin says he will repeal a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for about 122,000 state employees as well as mask mandates. He and his wife are both vaccinated and boosted.

“We’re going to have to learn how to live with it to protect lives and livelihoods and we can do both,” said Governor-elect Youngkin.

The Republican says he will have a lot more to say about his pandemic response after he takes office. As of this week, Youngkin has officially assembled his medical team who will oversee public health.

The governor-elect will even challenge a federal vaccine mandate, hoping a favorable court ruling will put workers back in Virginia hospitals.

“We’re going to protect Virginias from overreach from Washington when it comes to forcing hospitals to fire workers who haven’t gotten the vaccine right at a time when we need more workers in our hospital because our hospital systems are stretched beyond where they have been historical,” said Governor-elect Youngkin.

Youngkin will keep a limited, 30-day state of emergency in place to help hospitals and long-term care facilities deal with staffing and capacity challenges.

The omicron variant, along with flu cases, has pushed hospitalizations to record levels over the last week. Hospitalizations are expected to peak in early February.

The governor-elect has other priorities too. He says expect immediate action on eliminating the grocery tax, giving public school teachers a pay raise, and re-establishing trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“We’re going to change out our entire parole board. We’re going to make sure we have adequate if not record funding in our behavioral health system,” said Governor-elect Youngkin.

He will address the state as governor for the first time Saturday afternoon. You can expect a message of unity.

“This is the moment for us to come together. This is a moment to recognize we have more that unites us than divides us and the best days of the commonwealth of Virginia are definitely ahead of us,” said Governor-elect Youngkin.

This will be Youngkin’s first time at an inauguration because he’s a political outsider. He says he comes to the moment with humility and excitement.

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