As COVID cases surge, Gov.-elect Youngkin reaffirms plans to rescind state mask, vaccine mandates

Glenn Youngkin
Posted at 12:00 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 17:10:04-05

NORFOLK, Va. - As COVID cases surge in Virginia, Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin reaffirmed plans to rescind state vaccine and mask mandates.

"This is about taking care of lives and livelihoods and respecting individual decisions," Youngkin told News 3 in an interview Thursday.

Outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam put a vaccine mandate in place for state government employees, requiring them to prove vaccination or face weekly testing.

There is also a public health order in effect requiring children, visitors, and staff to wear masks inside of Virginia schools, regardless of vaccination status.

"This is not a comment on masks yes or masks no. This is a comment on parents making the decision for their children and that's what I respect," he said.

Youngkin has also said he encourages people to be vaccinated and got a booster shot himself. He said he will not mandate vaccines while in office, reaffirming a position he held during the campaign as well.

"It's a decision that I respect for you to make about yourself, but I'd ask you to make that decision and hopefully go get it," he said.

News 3 recently traveled to Richmond and interviewed Northam. Northam said his actions during the pandemic were meant to keep people safe and didn't criticize Youngkin's ideas.

"I suspect he'll be paying attention to the numbers just like I have. He'll look at the number of deaths each day and will want to keep our kids safe in school, which is where they belong," Northam said.

This week Youngkin also announced three picks for cabinet secretaries during his administration.

"Just incredibly talented and experienced people who are really committed to making sure that the day one game plan gets executed and we bring to life the spirit of Virginia," he said.

He will take office on January 15th, which is Inauguration Day.