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Youngkin announces Medical Advisory Team, vows to ‘be smart’ on COVID

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin. Photo: Twitter

Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin has appointed a Medical Advisory Team to help guide him through the latest surge of the COVID pandemic as he prepares to take office this weekend.

The Medical Advisory Team will be led by Dr. Marty Makary, Nancy Agee, Kathy Gorman, Alan Levine, Dr. Bogdan Neughebaeur and Anand Shah.

“I am proud to announce a group of experts from the medical and public health community that will be providing updates on the pandemic and advice on how to address its ongoing challenges,” said Youngkin, who takes office on Saturday.

Makary, a surgical oncologist, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and chief of the Johns Hopkins Islet Transplant Center, is the chair of the Medical Advisory Team.

Agee is the president and CEO of Carilion Clinic in Roanoke. Gorman is the executive vice president and COO of the Washington, D.C,-based Children’s National.

Levine is the chairman, president and CEO of Ballad Health, an integrated community health improvement organization serving 29 counties of the Appalachian Highlands in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Northwest North Carolina and Southeast Kentucky.

Neughebaeur is the vice president of medical affairs at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk.

Anand Shah is the former deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A release from the Youngkin transition team reports that the governor-elect has been fully briefed by experts from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to stay current on the data, science, and emergency response underway to address the COVID pandemic.

The transition is coming at a critical time in the pandemic, with the Commonwealth in the midst of a record number of COVID cases and hospitalizations.

The seven-day average for new cases is over the 17,000 mark today, nearly three times the high-water mark from last winter’s second wave, and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is reporting that there are 3,845 people with COVID in Virginia hospitals today, more than 20 percent above the high from a year ago.

The latest modeling from the University of Virginia is predicting cases to peak the week of Jan. 23, so we can probably expect hospitalizations to peak sometime in early February, but many hospital systems are already straining under the pressure, and the peak doesn’t mean the end – cases are expected to remain at high levels into the early spring.

With this in mind, the current governor, Ralph Northam, on Monday 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.

Northam’s Emergency Order Eighty-Four 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.

Youngkin has yet to comment publicly on the Northam action.

“I have been receiving briefings about the coronavirus and Omicron variant regularly, and we are going to stay on top of this,” Youngkin said. “I recognize the severity of the virus and the significant loss that it has caused. Virginians should rest assured that we are monitoring this variant and doing everything we can to be smart about this.

“I will enter office ready to reopen Virginia, support our healthcare heroes, and protect the lives and livelihoods of Virginians,” Youngkin said.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
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