Virginia governor issues 30-day state of emergency

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Jan. 10 issued a limited 30-day emergency order to help hospitals facing an influx of patients during the latest COVID-19 surge.

The emergency order aims to expand bed capacity at hospitals, address staffing challenges at hospitals and nursing homes, and allow more flexibility for public health agencies in responding to the pandemic, according to a news release from Mr. Northam's office.

According to the governor's office, provisions of the emergency order include:

  • Directing the state health commissioner to waive normal bed licensing requirements
  • Allowing hospitals to increase their licensed bed capacity
  • Allowing providers with an active out-of-state license to practice medicine in Virginia
  • Authorizing physician assistants with at least two years of clinical experience to practice without a written supervisory agreement
  • Increasing provider-to-patient ratios
  • Increasing flexibility in the transfer of patients to state-operated psychiatric hospitals

"Healthcare workers and hospitals are exhausted, and they are again facing increasing numbers of patients, affecting their ability to provide care," Mr. Northam said in the news release. "These steps will help ease the strain, giving medical professionals more flexibility to care for people. Ultimately, the best thing everyone can do for our hospitals and their staff is to get vaccinated."

Virginia issued the emergency order after a record number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the state were posted Jan. 7. That day, 3,329 hospitalizations were reported, an increase from the previous record of 3,201 on Jan. 13, 2021, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Mr. Northam said the 30-day duration of the emergency order is based on modeling that suggests COVID-19 will peak in the next few weeks.

Read the full emergency order here.

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