RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia physicians and health professionals today said Terry McAuliffe is the only candidate for governor that Virginians can count on to fully promote COVID-19 vaccinations and support life-saving safety measures such as masks. Their call came after his opponent, Glenn Youngkin, released a campaign ad featuring physicians including one who has posted anti-mask rhetoric on his Facebook page
“This gubernatorial election really boils down to COVID-19 — it’s what’s filling up our emergency rooms, the ICUs, wearing down our staff, and really harming people,” said Dr. Stewart Pollock, a cardiologist in Albemarle County. “This election is a choice between preventing COVID-19 or treating the consequences. Mr. McAuliffe clearly is in favor of masks and very pro-vaccine. On the other hand, Mr. Youngkin, while he himself has been vaccinated, is not strong on vaccinations, he’s not strong on masks, he’s endorsed the Florida DeSantis approach of not mandating masks, and that has been disastrous. He’s not mandating vaccines, and the consequence is going to be more COVID-19.”
Youngkin has promised to block schools and businesses from implementing safety measures that can reduce COVID-19 transmission, such as mask wearing and vaccine requirements. Youngkin has also said he prefers to follow the example of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose anti-mask, anti-vaccine policies led to massive outbreaks and mass deaths in the state.
“Physicians and health professionals in Virginia are deeply concerned that Mr. Youngkin is doing what many of those in his party such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continue to do, and that’s to ignore science, reject effective safety measures and let COVID-19 tear through our communities,” said Dr. Bickley Craven, a family physician in Big Stone Gap. “Glenn Youngkin apparently wants to do the opposite of what science and evidence tell us, and that will only endanger Virginians’ lives and drag out this exhausting pandemic further. We need leadership that is strongly based in public health. We do not feel Mr. Youngkin is the candidate for this position and would strongly support Mr. McAuliffe.”
DeSantis’ hands-off approach to COVID-19, which Youngkin endorses, led to catastrophic hospital overcrowding and depletion of resources. Virginia currently has more hospital capacity than Florida, including more available ICU beds. Youngkin’s opposition to masks in schools also stands at odds with evidence showing masks can reduce COVID-19 infections among students by more than threefold.
“We’re talking today to try to set the record straight,” said Dr. Greg Gelburd, a family physician in Charlottesville. “I want all of us to understand how serious this disease is. We don’t think that people should be exempt from the vaccine. The only person that I would support in Richmond right now in the governor’s office is Terry McAuliffe.”
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care, formerly known as the Committee to Protect Medicare, is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org