Youngkin extends Virginia’s emergency order, helping hospitals through omicron surge

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 5:45 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has issued a new executive order to give hospitals flexibility to increase bed capacity and staffing, as they continue to manage the omicron surge and staffing shortages.

The fifth COVID-19 surge is ending, but Julian Walker, VP of Communications for the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association (VHHA), said case counts are still higher than normal.

“1,200 hospitalizations for COVID is still elevated and not as low as we want to see that number, and given the conditions of this fifth surge, we felt it appropriate to request an extension,” Walker said.

However, many hospitals are feeling some relief as case counts continue to decrease.

“Thankfully, what we’ve seen now is a lot of the numbers have come down. Today we’re at 1,221 COVID hospitalizations, so obviously a pretty significant decline from more than 3,900 hospitalizations,” he said.

Executive Order 16 comes after VHHA asked the governor to extend flexibilities, which were set to expire Monday, Feb. 21. Walker said EO 16 is essentially an extension of EO 11, which was the order that originally granted the flexibility.

The order allows hospitals some freedom in expanding bed capacity and staffing. When the EO 11 was announced, the omicron surge was in full swing.

“We were seeing the serious effects of the omicron surge, which as you know crested in January of this year with nearly 4,000 daily hospitalizations, which is a record-shattering number which to that point we had not seen in the commonwealth,” said Walker.

The new order covers another 30 days and is set to expire March 21.

“Hopefully, when we get to the end of this extension, hospitalization numbers will be so low that further executive action will not be necessary, or request for further executive action will not be necessary,” he said.

Walker said VHHA is very grateful for the new order.

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