ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – Virginia’s new governor spent Monday afternoon touring Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon before meeting with local leaders to discuss vaccine mandates.

While at Johnston Memorial, Youngkin got an up-close look at the strain local hospitals are facing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“At the end of the day, we do not have enough nurses and technicians and hospital workers, we need more,” Youngkin said. “We need to make sure that the ones that are healthy can stay on the job and that’s what we’re most trying to do.”

Youngkin ended his trip to Southwest Virginia at Highland Fellowship Church, where he spoke with local leaders like state Sen. Todd Pillion and Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine. The primary topic of discussion was the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ current ruling on COVID-19 vaccinations among health care staff.

Youngkin touched on a letter that he drafted in partnership with West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

You can read Youngkin’s full letter below:

“We’re asking her to give us an extension just a break in forcing particularly our rural hospitals to terminate healthy workers when they haven’t gotten the vaccine, and right now we have a staffing crisis, and the last thing we need to do is make it even worse,” Youngkin said.