Gov.-elect Youngkin: ‘COVID is not going to go away’
Virginia is facing a rough next few weeks with the spread of the Omicron variant. The man about to become the next governor, Glenn Youngkin, is ruling out mask mandates and a return to virtual learning as a possible response.
“I believe children need to be in the classroom five days a week,” Youngkin told ABC7 in Washington, D.C., on Monday. “And I also believe we can in fact balance the needs of our children with the health and safety of our children. And I don’t believe that mandating masks in school is the right way. I believe in making sure we have protocols when children don’t feel well that we in fact don’t have to send them home the entire time. That we can in fact allow them to pursue their education in a different facility or a different place in the school building.”
The latest University of Virginia COVID-19 model forecasts a peak of 109,464 new COVID cases statewide the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6, more than five times the 20,099 cases that we’re seeing in the current week across the Commonwealth, as the fast-spreading Omicron variant takes hold.
Some research is suggesting that the variant results in more mild illness, so the impact on hospitalizations – and hospital resources – is an uncomfortable unknown.
Youngkin will be sworn in as governor on Saturday, Jan. 15, three weeks from this coming Saturday.
“COVID is not going to go away,” Youngkin said. “And therefore, making sure that we adapt to recognizing that it’s going to be here, that it’s going to be here in a way that’s constantly causing fear and anxiety, and we can deal with it. But I believe families should make that decision on their own, for their children, for themselves and we are going to do everything we can to make sure people have the best information so that we have advocates in their communities to help them understand the benefits of keeping themselves safe with the vaccine.”
On job-related COVID mandates: “We will continue to push back on federal mandates that would force people to lose their job,” Youngkin said. “We can protect lives and livelihoods. On day one we will rescind the current executive order for state employees that requires state employees to get a vaccine and wear a mask. We are going to rescind that. As I’ve said over and over again, I believe in the vaccine. I believe in the booster. I’ve gotten both. I won’t mandate it.”
Story by Chris Graham