Northam reactivates Adjunct Emergency Workforce to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations
Ever heard of the Adjunct Emergency Workforce? Launched initially in 2007 under then-Gov. Tim Kaine in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the concept is to give state employees the opportunity to assist the public in a variety of ways, including sheltering support and providing other essential emergency services.
Gov. Ralph Northam reactivated the workforce on March 8 to assist with the response to COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
“So far, 65 AEW participants have been placed in positions with the Virginia Department of Health to assist with the response to COVID-19 vaccination efforts,” Northam said. “This is an exciting time in the Commonwealth and shows that the fight to stop COVID-19 involves all of state government in the trenches.”
Developed by the Department of Human Resource Management, the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness, the Department of Emergency Management and the Department of Social Services, the long-term vision for the AEW is to quickly identify qualified state employees and redeploy them to augment critical staffing needs during declared emergencies.
AEW participants may be offered temporary reassignment to close critical staffing gaps in the Virginia Emergency Support Team, comprised of more than 105 state agencies, private businesses and volunteer organizations.
Employees are currently assisting within the Virginia Department of Health Central Office, Roanoke Health District, and Chickahominy Health District, deployed in such positions as data entry, logistics, site assistants, intake managers, and greeters. Others are registered to assist as site managers and public information officers, among other roles.
“Our employees have always been supportive of their communities, whether volunteering for nonprofit organizations or donating each year to the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign,” Department of Human Resource Management Director Emily S. Elliott said. “This is just one more way that they can serve their communities during a time of need.”
“Supporting response and recovery efforts is the responsibility of all state employees during the time of a declared emergency,” State Coordinator Curtis Brown said. “COVID-19 has stretched the capacity of resources and the AEW helps fill in the gaps so that we can better serve the residents of the commonwealth through a whole-of-government approach.”
In 2019, Northam issued Executive Order 42, which reaffirmed AEW’s role in the commonwealth’s response and recovery capabilities and specifies various state agency AEW roles and responsibilities.
To date, 197 state employees have registered with AEW for vaccination efforts and 86 employees for sheltering efforts when necessary.
“We are excited about the response we’ve received from state employees and equally proud to be a partner in supporting the commonwealth’s ongoing emergency response and recovery efforts,” VDSS Commissioner S. Duke Storen said. “Our agency’s commitment to a ‘people first’ culture is not only one of our core values, but clearly a shared mission of other state agencies and employees.”