Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issues 30-day emergency order to help hospitals

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam took steps on Monday to increase Virginia’s hospital capacity and support healthcare workers responding to COVID-19 after a record number of hospitalizations were posted on Friday.

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Northam issued a limited 30-day order to expand the number of available hospital beds, increase staffing capacity at hospitals and nursing homes and allow public health agencies greater flexibility in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Health care workers and hospitals are exhausted, and they are again facing increasing numbers of patients, affecting their ability to provide care," Governor Northam said. "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."

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The overwhelming majority of individuals hospitalized have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Northam says.

More than 3,500 patients statewide are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and ICU hospitalizations have more than doubled since December 1, 2021, according to state health officials. 

Monday's emergency order directs the State Health Commissioner to waive normal bed licensing requirements, allows hospitals to increase their licensed bed capacity and mandates increased coordination between hospitals and local Medical Services Agencies.

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The emergency order also directs a number of actions to boost staff in hospitals and nursing homes: 

-Allows providers with an active out-of-state license to practice in Virginia

-Authorizes experienced Physician Assistants to practice without a written supervisory agreement

-Increases provider-to-patient ratios

-Provides certain liability protections to health care workers who act in good faith to protect patients


The order increases flexibility in the transfer of patients to state-operated psychiatric hospitals. The full text of Executive Order Eighty-Four is here.