RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — We’re just a few days from a change at the top in the commonwealth.
Republican Glenn Youngkin will be sworn in as Virginia’s next governor on Saturday, January 15. It marks the first time in a decade a Republican will hold that office.
Youngkin will already face some challenges on his first day as omicron cases continue to surge in Virginia.
How much will Republican Glenn Younkin’s COVID-19 policies differ from outgoing Democrat Ralph Northam?
Youngkin has been passionately anti-shutdown and campaigned on re-opening Virginia. He’s also strongly against President Biden’s vaccine mandate, saying last Friday that he and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares plan to to challenge the mandate legally.
Governor Northam on the other hand supported and enforced the Biden mandates.
Youngkin doesn’t disagree with all of Northam’s policies. He approves of Northam’s State of Emergency declaration this week that relaxed some COVID-19 regulations in hospitals allowing them to address staffing concerns.
“We’ll of course continue that kind of flexibility, I think it’s really important. We have a crisis in our health care system right now and it’s a staffing crisis,” explained Youngkin. “We’ll have more to say about our COVID policies in the coming days but we’re going to have a practical approach. We’re going to encourage everyone to get the vaccine as a practical way to take care of of your family. “
Keeping schools open was one of Youngkin’s biggest campaign topics. He adamantly supports in-person learning.
This week, a number of schools in Virginia went back to virtual, including 6 schools in Chesapeake. During an interview with 10 On Your Side, Youngkin has maintained his stance on schools, yet did stop short of saying he would pass any sort of mandate for schools to stay open.
“Closing our schools is really a distant alternative, we know it doesn’t work all that well,” said the governor-elect. “While I know there may be some decisions that need to be made occasionally, we want our kids back in school. And so we’re going to strongly encourage everyone to figure this out. We can do this. And to use closing schools as a last alternative.”
Another issue top of everyone’s mind, the shortage of COVID tests. Glenn Youngkin said his team is already working on this issue.
“I have to say I’m a bit frustrated because this isn’t a new problem. And to be walking into office on the 15th and having a testing shortage seems like we’ve really missed something and so we’re actually going to work now to make sure we’re doing everything we can to increase the availability of tests.”