Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced a new plan of action to combat COVID-19 in his state and signed an executive order that will enable health care systems, facilities and personnel to access the tools they need to effectively fight the ongoing pandemic.
"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 a statement from the governor's office.
"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," also according to the three-page plan from Youngkin's office.
In addition to helping hospitals and medical staffers fight the virus, the governor is channeling additional resources toward encouraging the nearly 1.6 million Virginians who remain unvaccinated to receive the vaccine.
The governor will direct the state's Secretary of Health to prioritize resources toward vaccine education and outreach, especially in disproportionately unvaccinated communities. In addition, Virginia government will host vaccine events across the commonwealth and work with fellow governors throughout the country to stay up to date on best practices when it comes to vaccine education.
As COVID cases surge across the country due largely to the Omicron variant, Youngkin is waiving regulations in Virginia that would prevent hospitals and nursing homes from rapidly expanding bed capacities, as well as lessening the burden for qualified out-of-state nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in the commonwealth.
Finally, the governor is re-orienting the use of rapid COVID tests to those in key categories, including students who may have been exposed to the virus who need tests to remain in school, frontline healthcare workers who need tests to return to work, and vulnerable residents 65 and older in nursing facilities, among others.