Virginia Gov. Northam declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 spike

Although he is on his way out of office, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a substantial executive action this week.

Citing the latest COVID-19 surge and its impact on the state’s health care workers, Northam issued a 30-day emergency order aimed at providing relief.

“Will help ease the strain”

According to the Washington Examiner, GOP Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin is poised to take over the office at the end of the week.

As one of his final orders, the outgoing governor sought to increase bed capacity and staffing at hospitals and nursing homes by waiving a variety of requirements that might otherwise constrain the ability of such facilities to deal with an increase in patients.

“Health care workers and hospitals are exhausted, and they are again facing increasing numbers of patients, affecting their ability to provide care,” Northam explained in a statement on Monday.

He predicted that the steps outlined in his emergency order “will help ease the strain, giving medical professionals more flexibility to care for people.”

Northam went on to reiterate his belief that “the best thing everyone can do for our hospitals and their staff is to get vaccinated.”

Details of executive order

The Democratic governor’s statement celebrated Virginia’s low rate of COVID-19 deaths, chalking it up to a high rate of vaccination compared to other states. Nevertheless, he lamented the recent surge in hospitalization due to the virus as well as influenza.

His executive order took effect on Monday and will expire on Feb. 11. It temporarily waived a host of related regulatory requirements in hopes of more effectively addressing the increased hospitalization rate.

Specific aspects of the mandate will allow for the expansion of bed capacity in certain facilities without prior authorization or licensure as well as permission for properly licensed out-of-state health care workers in good standing to work in the state without jumping through the normal bureaucratic hoops.

Northam’s order also allowed for the expanded use of telemedicine as well as waived requirements meant to streamline various health care processes.

It remains to be seen whether Youngkin, who will be sworn into office on Saturday, will move to rescind his predecessor’s last-minute order.

Latest News