HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)–Henrico County could see a boost in testing resources and personal protective equipment after county leaders signed off on a local state of emergency declaration Monday.

A rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant led the Board of Supervisors to approve the decision.

The declaration allows the county to have a faster pandemic response to possible guideline changes by the Center for Disease Control or the Virginia Department of Health and to order COVID-related supplies.

Alec Oughton, Henrico County’s fire chief, said their primary focus is purchasing PPE, like masks and test kits.

“If you look around, it’s two to three times the number of infections we saw this time last year,” he said. “We’re trying to be out in front of that.”

The VDH reported that Henrico’s seven-day average of daily new cases is 745. The CDC reports in the last seven days, more than 200 people were admitted to a Henrico hospital with COVID-19. About 25% of Henrico’s ICU beds are filled with hospitalized COVID patients.

Curtis Milam, a Henrico resident, said he acknowledges county leaders are trying to turn the tide, but he’s still concerned.

“Almost two years and it’s been trying on some of us,” he said. “The cycle is just going to repeat itself over and over again with the omicron variant.”

Milam encourages people to get vaccinated, noting his workplace has not reported any outbreaks so far. Chief Oughton said the emergency declaration is the first step in combating the county’s surge in cases.

“It should set the community’s mind at ease that we’re preparing to continue to be nimble and continue to adapt to the changing environment,” he said.