RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — On Tuesday, Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia health officials recognized the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) for their COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.

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Throughout the pandemic, thousands of MRC volunteers have assisted with testing and vaccinating Virginians. Governor Ralph Northam issued a proclamation on December 21, 2021, recognizing the “superb efforts” of these dedicated volunteers

“Virginia could not have successfully responded to the pandemic without the support of Virginia Medical Reserve Corps volunteers,” the governor’s proclamation states.

The MRC program was established in 2002 to support public health emergencies. volunteers are trained in emergency management, mental health preparedness, disease investigation, CPR and bioterrorism response.

In April 2020, Northam issued a call for additional volunteers to assist with the COVID-19 response.

Over 17,600 Virginians have volunteered as new Virginia MRC members logging a total of 673,777 hours between January 2020 and November 2021.

“During the COVID-19 response, the Virginia MRC launched the largest ever mobilization of volunteers to augment public health response missions and support over 80 public and private health care facilities around the Commonwealth,” said Jennifer Freeland, Assistant State Volunteer Coordinator for VDH. “Our volunteer mass vaccination workforce enabled Virginia to become a leader among southeastern states in vaccinating adults with at least one dose.”

Virginians 18 years and older can apply to be a volunteer.