Gov. Youngkin announces COVID-19 Action Plan to address strained hospitals, testing issues

The governor's office says this plan aligns with Executive Order Number Eleven
The governor's office says this plan aligns with Executive Order Number Eleven(Andrew Harnik | AP)
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 11:53 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 3:34 PM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On Thursday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced his COVID-19 Action Plan.

In a press release, the governor’s office says this plan aligns 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 would also include issuing clear testing guidelines to prioritize the use of COVID rapid tests and providing more 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 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.”

As part of Youngkin’s plan, additional resources will be allocated to further encourage the 1.6 million Virginians who are still unvaccinated to get the shot. There are four main components to his plan for getting more people vaccinated:

  • 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.

When it comes to supporting struggling hospitals, the plan is to waive regulation to expand bed capacity and allow flexibility for out-of-state nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in Virginia, along with the following:

  • 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.

Youngkin’s plan also calls for prioritizing testing to help with supply-chain shortages. The plan is for testing to be focused on schools, hospitals and nursing facilities.

“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,” a release said.

The Executive Order will be in effect until Feb. 21 unless amended or rescinded.

A spokesperson for Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association released a statement regarding Executive Order Eleven

“Through two years and five surges, Virginia hospitals and their staff have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, having treated and discharged more than 86,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, administered millions of vaccines doses, and conducted even more tests. In the past month, Virginia hospitals have encountered some of the most challenging circumstances seen since the pandemic began. A rapidly escalating surge has led to record-setting hospitalizations that are straining the capacity of the health care delivery system, its staff, and resources. Already weary frontline caregivers are being asked to do more even as the highly-transmissible Omicron variant has caused illness leading to staff shortages that make an existing health care staffing crisis even worse. An effective hospital response to this surge necessitates support from the public and partners in government to ensure continuity of operations so that patients can receive the care they need. That is why we sincerely thank Governor Glenn Youngkin for taking the important step of issuing an Executive Order to authorize hospitals and health care providers to meet the challenges they currently face. Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order is a welcome and necessary step to grant important flexibilities to frontline providers and Virginia hospitals as they continue to battle this pandemic surge.”

To read Governor Youngkin’s full COVID-19 Action Plan, click here.

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