ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin released his COVID-19 Action Plan — along with Executive Order 11 — to provide healthcare providers the necessary tools to combat the pandemic; devote additional resources to encourage Virginians to get the vaccine; and issue clear guidelines to prioritize the use of rapid tests.

“While many families have experienced tragedy over the last two years, Virginians have truly embodied the spirit of Virginia as they came together to fight a common enemy—COVID-19,” said Youngkin. “Today’s announcements are designed to give Virginians the tools and resources needed to make the best decisions for their families, strengthen our hospital systems, and ensure a strong recovery as we encounter new challenges associated with the pandemic that has become part of our everyday life.”

This news comes amid the governor’s visit to Roanoke on Thursday, Jan. 20.

The main points of Youngkin’s COVID-19 Action Plan — which you can read in its entirety by clicking here — are listed below:

Expanded healthcare flexibility and support

Youngkin’s office says he signed Executive Order 11 to give hospitals, health systems, nursing facilities, and other healthcare providers the necessary flexibility and support to battle staffing shortages caused by both the pandemic and federal mandates impacting healthcare workers.

The governor is taking the following actions:

  • Allowing hospitals and nursing homes to rapidly expand bed capacity by waiving regulations.
  • Providing flexibility for qualified out-of-state nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in Virginia.
  • Creating appropriate exemptions to scope of practice requirements to allow healthcare providers to care for patients.
  • Expanding the number of providers available to offer the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Expanding flexibility, overtime hours, and availability for personal care workers.

“COVID-19 Vaccine Marshall Plan for Virginia

According to Youngkin, he will devote additional resources and efforts to encourage the nearly 1.6 million unvaccinated Virginians to get the COVID-19 vaccine, such as :

  • Directing the Secretary of Health to re-prioritize resources toward vaccine education and outreach, including expanded efforts in disproportionately unvaccinated communities.
  • Planning to host and attend COVID-19 vaccine events across the Commonwealth.
  • Working with governors across the country to learn the best practices on vaccine education.
  • Empowering Virginia with choices rather than mandates.

According to officials, data shows that people vaccinated against COVID-19 are four times less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not.

Prioritized testing guidelines

The governor’s office says Youngkin will prioritize testing guidelines to mitigate supply-chain shortages for COVID-19 tests.

More specifically, he will discourage mass testing for the purposes of pre-screening, discourage individuals who are not experiencing virus symptoms from getting tested, and encourage healthy individuals with mild symptoms to stay home and use discretion when it comes to testing.

“We can, in fact, protect lives and livelihoods. This is our moment as Virginians to come together and recognize that we have to re-double our efforts and we can in fact beat this,” Youngkin said during Thursday’s stop in Roanoke..

The governor’s plans for prioritized testing guidelines include:

  • Expediting pending orders of rapid tests.
  • Redeploying unused tests at state agencies and other non-essential facilities to schools, hospitals, and nursing facilities.
  • Directing the State Health Commissioner to issue new guidelines that prioritize the use of rapid tests for key categories, such as:
    • Students potentially exposed to COVID-19 who need to test to remain in school.
    • Essential healthcare professionals and other essential worker who need to be tested to return to work.
    • Vulnerable citizens, including those in nursing facilities and over the age of 65.
    • Those with serious medical conditions and their caregivers.
    • Those who need to be tested after consultation with a healthcare provider.