House of Delegate Republicans have repeatedly begun the regular sessions this week by blasting Virginia’s government for the slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
On Monday, GOP Caucus Chairman Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford) said, “Madam Speaker, as we meet today, Virginia’s government is struggling in a critical life-saving mission. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Virginia has received over 850,000 doses of the COVID vaccine, but we have administered fewer than 250,000 doses. That performance ranks us among the lowest of the fifty states.”
“All of our neighbors, including the District of Columbia, are doing a better job getting these life saving vaccines into the arms of citizens,” Byron said.
Byron continued, “The Governor is claiming that the CDC results are lagging indicators because of all the doses being administered in Virginia aren’t being reported. If that excuse sounds familiar to you, it should. It’s the same excuse used last year when were lagging in the nation administration of COVID tests.” Byron said, “Maybe we should have suspected this Governor didn’t have a plan?”
Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) replied, “Only 13 states have given more shots than Virginia. More than 316,000 people have received one of the two shots. We’re vaccinating more people as on a percentage basis than the largest state in the nation, California. Virginia has never seen cooperation like this before.”
On Tuesday, Byron again spoke about the vaccine rollout, along with other delegates.
Delegate Charles Poindexter (R-Franklin) noted that only a few regions of Virginia have moved into Phase 1b, meaning that only healthcare workers and few others have access to the vaccine.
“Yes indeed, there is a problem,” he said. “We’re not even 1b yet. My phone and my email are ringing and printing off the hook. Yes indeed, there is a problem, and we need it fixed.”
“We are paying attention very much to the problems coming from this admin and the total mismanagement of the admin of this vaccine,” Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said. “We were near at the bottom in testing, we were near at the bottom in getting unemployment benefits to Virginians, and we are near at the bottom again in terms of getting this vaccine administration being given to Virginians to save lives.”
On Wednesday, Delegate Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield) said, “I wish I had good news regarding COVID-19 vaccines for this body, but after reaching out my constituents in Chesterfield County, the expectations on the rollout has been both frustrating and disappointing.”
Robinson said that a delay in vaccine rollout to teachers was preventing children from returning to in-person classes. She said, “We were told that the allocations to local health districts were severely curtailed this week with no explanation as to why.”
Delegate Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) agreed that the vaccine rollout is not going fast enough, and that based on current numbers, it will take over a year to vaccinate the whole population of Virginia. But he placed the blame on former President Donald Trump.
“Let’s look at the basic numbers on vaccine distribution. Virginia was getting, and I say was because we have a new president and things may change, but Virginia was getting 100,000 to 110,000 vaccines a week,” Levine said. “That’s not fast enough. And it’s not fast enough because the Trump administration did not supply Virginia with enough vaccines.”
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, as of January 19, North Dakota and West Virginia are leading the country in percentage of vaccines administered of what the state has received. North Dakota has administered 82.43 percent of its 68,675 vaccines. West Virginia has administered 74.29 percent of its 205,475. California ranked 45th, having distributed 41.16 percent of 3,548,575 vaccines.
Virginia is number 48 on the list of 50 states. The Commonwealth has administered 38.34 percent of 852,725 vaccines received.
“Virginian’s government is failing her citizens,” Robinson said on Wednesday. “The CDC tells us that there have been hundreds of thousands of doses sent to Virginia that aren’t making it into arms. Where are they? Why were we not prepared? And again, I ask: how can we fix this?”
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