Virginia governor calls for more volunteers to meet COVID-19 demand
Virginia's governor is calling for more volunteers, both from medical and non-medical backgrounds, to aid in the commonwealth's fight against COVID-19.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Wednesday that the Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is hoping to recruit up to 30,000 total volunteers that are needed to support expected surges in hospitals and long-term care facilities across Virginia.
The governor's office and the MRC are working with colleges and universities to reach out to students, especially those enrolled in health and medical degree programs, for recruiting. They're also reaching out to people who recently filed for unemployment benefits and have relevant experience to volunteer their time, as well as coordinating with hospitals, health systems, and professional associations to help recruit their community members.
“As a doctor and a veteran, I know how vital it is to have the necessary personnel on the front lines,” said Governor Northam. “The success of our COVID-19 crisis response depends on our ability to mobilize a dedicated healthcare workforce, and we are counting on Virginians to lend a hand and help us battle this virus. This is an opportunity to do good for our Commonwealth and save lives.”
The MRC is made up of a range of local volunteer units, which are each comprised of teams of medical and public health professionals who, along with community members, volunteer their time, skills, and expertise to support ongoing public health initiatives and assist during emergencies.
“Whether you have a background in health care or just want to serve your community, Virginia needs you,” said Chief Workforce Advisor Dr. Megan Healy. “All Virginians are welcome in the fight against COVID-19, and we will need a wide range of talents to enhance the Commonwealth’s medical surge capacity during this time of crisis.”
“We have all been inspired by the generosity of so many individuals in Virginia since COVID-19 began impacting the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. “We need all hands on deck as we expand our health system capacity in the weeks ahead. Now more than ever, joining the MRC is a great way to take action and give back to your community in a meaningful way.”
As of Wednesday, the governor's office said about 14,700 people had signed up with the MRC, nearly a third of them in the past few weeks; but they need another 15,000.
About half of the volunteers currently in the force have professional medical experience, but that's not necessary for everyone. Training at institutions of higher education is available for any Virginian who wants to learn basic medical skills to volunteer, as well as training for current health proessionals to boost their skills on transmission intensive care or medical-surgical units. Courses are also available on ventilator usage.
Nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students are particularly encouraged to apply. Non-medical volunteer positions that are needed include logistics, communication, coordination, technology and other support.
“Tens of thousands of caring and committed healthcare professionals are working on the frontlines in Virginia hospitals to help patients who have contracted serious cases of COVID-19,” said Sean T. Connaughton, President and CEO of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. “At a time when the healthcare delivery system is working to maximize treatment capacity to meet the steadily-rising number of patients, there is a critical need for volunteers to join the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps to supplement the efforts of active healthcare providers.”
For more information or to sign up to become an MRC volunteer, you can visit
. For more information on the state’s response to COVID-19, you can visit