RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An executive order designed to help Virginia hospitals battle the fifth COVID-19 surge is set to expire Monday. Now, Virginia hospitals are urging Governor Youngkin to temporarily extend the provisions, saying the pandemic is still straining hospital teams.

“VHHA has requested this extension at a time when COVID-19 hospitalizations remain elevated and staffing challenges persist even though overall hospitalizations have declined since hitting record peaks last month,” said Julian Walker with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Unless amended, the order is set to expire Monday; however, in a letter to the Governor’s team, the VHHA is requesting a 30-to-60 day extension.

“The flexibilities provided by Governor Youngkin have been helpful during the response to the surge,” Walker said. “Accordingly, we have requested those flexibilities be temporarily extended.”

In January, Governor Youngkin introduced these provisions as part of his “COVID-19 Action Plan.

The order temporarily suspended regulations, giving hospitals more flexibility to increase bed capacity, tele-medicine and staff. 

It also allowed nurses and other health care professionals outside of the state to practice in Virginia, expanded overtime hours and availability for personal care workers.

Right now, hospitalizations are trending downward in Virginia, with 1,270 COVID patients hospitalized today, compared to 1,990 on February 10.

However, it’s the need for more staff that’s still driving concern.

Over the weekend, seven hospitals in the Richmond area held job fairs, offering jobs on the spot.

Bon Secours tells 8news there’s a critical need for more nurses, imaging professionals and surgical technicians. They’re also hiring nursing support staff, environmental services, lab professionals, medicals assistants, pharmacy techs, respiratory therapists and student nurse externs.