By Nathaniel Cline, 9/10/21
Terry McAuliffe, Democratic nominee for Governor of Virginia, on Friday called on all employees of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other residential facilities serving seniors in Virginia to require their staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 during a campaign event in Loudoun County.
The nominee for governor made the announcement before more than 65 people at the Ashby Ponds Senior Living Community in Ashburn.
“This is all about safety,” McAuliffe said.
“The FDA has approved this vaccination,” he said. “There is no reason — if you have a legitimate religious or health I get that that’s a very tiny percentage — but anyone else should get vaccinated. That’s how we keep each other safe.”
Del. David Reid (D-32nd), who provided Ashby Pond residents with updates on his work in the General Assembly, was in attendance as McAuliffe shared the announcement as part of his new plan, “Supporting Virginia’s Seniors: Ensuring Quality and Affordability Later in Life,” available on his campaign website.
McAuliffe’s campaign officials said the plan focuses on “lifting up seniors as he rebuilds a stronger post-COVID economy in the commonwealth.”
Following the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement granting full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, McAuliffe previously called on all health systems, school divisions, and colleges and universities to institute the same requirement.
“It’s safe,” McAuliffe said.
“I don’t want someone unvaccinated coming to work into this residence facility and getting you sick and then you could turn around and give it to your grandchildren,” he said.
As Virginia’s 72nd Governor, campaign officials said, McAuliffe helped to provide quality, affordable care for seniors by expanding Medicaid, a program utilized by 60% of all nursing home residents to cover their long-term care needs.
Additionally, officials said he also expanded the No Wrong Doors program, which connects Virginia’s seniors to more than 27,000 programs and services offered in Virginia including assistance for home care, transportation, meals, and more.
Climate change was one of the common questions the nominee was questioned on, along with education and cyber attacks. McAuliffe said if elected, he hopes to move Virginia to 100% clean energy by 2035.
“I want to lead the country here in Virginia,” McAuliffe said.
Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe stumped at the Ashby Ponds retirement community Friday morning to highlight his call to the owners of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other residential facilities serving seniors to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.
In recent weeks, the Democratic nominee has made similar calls for vaccine mandates for health care workers, K-12 school divisions, and colleges.
The vaccination requirement is one element of his nine-point plan to support senior citizens in the commonwealth. His plan also includes efforts to lower medicine and medical costs and to promote opportunities for residents to age in place.
McAuliffe told the residents who filled an auditorium on the Ashburn campus Sept. 10 that he supports President Biden’s requirement for federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated.
“Listen folks, this is all about safety. The FDA has approved this vaccination. There is no reason now—if you have a legitimate religious or health issues, I get that, that’s a very tiny percent—but anyone else should get vaccinated. That’s how we keep each other safe,” he said.
He said the rapid spread of the Delta variant and the threat of vaccine-resistant strains developing increase the urgency to stamp out the virus.
“I’m very unhappy with these people who have chosen not to be vaccinated,” he said. “What’s the deal? It’s safe. I don’t want someone who is unvaccinated working in this residential facility and getting you sick, and then you can turn around and give it to your grandchildren who are under 12 and can’t get vaccinated.”
McAuliffe said vaccine mandates are among the issues that separate him from his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin.
“The guy I’m running against, he does not believe in any of this,” he said. “He doesn’t believe in that people should be mandated to get the vaccinations. That’s a real difference this governor’s race. I’m trying to come with common sense.”
During a question-and-answer session with Ashby Ponds residents, McAuliffe repeatedly highlighted actions taken during his four-year term as Virginia’s 72nd governor in making the case for his return as its 74th.
He characterized Republican efforts to add abortion restrictions and oppose LBGTQ rights as hampering work to attract new businesses to the state.
“You can’t recruit the businesses of the 21st century if you are putting walls up around your state,” he said. “My point always was, I want to show people that here in Virginia we’re open and welcoming. We respect everybody no matter who they love, or who they pray to, or the color of one’s skin. And because of all that, our economy took off.”
He also highlighted his work to expand Medicare, to reform the Standards of Learning program in Virginia’s schools to discourage teach-to-the-test lesson plans, and to begin a shift to green energy with the approval of solar farms and offshore wind turbines.
Rather than undermine confidence in public education, he said it was important to strengthen it.
“When I was governor before, I put a billion dollars into education. I wanted us to have the greatest education system in the country,” he said.
He credited that investment into helping to land nationally recruited businesses including Nestlé, Gerber, Amazon, and Costar.
“Why? Because we’re ranked the number one education system in America for higher ed. We’re ranked number four for America for K-12. We’re ranked the number one state for business two years in a row—the only state in America to get that. We’re doing pretty good here in Virginia,” he said.
When he was asked about Youngkin’s proposal—currently being promoted in a run of TV ads—to eliminate the sales tax on groceries, McAuliffe said his opponent doesn’t understand Virginia’s government. While Youngkin has suggested using the commonwealth’s current $2 billion budget surplus to make for revenue lost through his proposed tax cuts, McAuliffe pointed out most of that money is already encumbered, with a constitutional requirement to replenish the state’s Rainy Day Fund and water quality improvement funds.
“He’s clueless about state government,” McAuliffe said, noting that Youngkin also had floated ideas to eliminate the state income tax—the chief revenue source for the General Fund—and to limit real estate tax, which is controlled by localities.
But McAuliffe said something like eliminating the grocery tax wouldn’t be off the table.
“Anything I can do, like I did last time, to put more money in people’s pockets, [improve] quality of life, that’s what I’m about,” he said.