RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam announced on March 8, 2021, that state employees will join in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by volunteering for the re-activated Commonwealth of Virginia Adjunct Emergency Workforce (AEW). Launched initially by Governor Tim Kaine in 2007 following Hurricane Katrina, the AEW gives state employees the opportunity to support the Commonwealth’s Emergency Response and Recovery activities.
During a declared emergency, qualified AEW participants may be offered temporary reassignment to close critical staffing gaps in the Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST), comprised of more than 105 state agencies, private businesses, and volunteer organizations. The AEW may be called upon to assist the public in a variety of ways including sheltering support and providing other essential emergency services.
“So far, 65 AEW participants have been placed in positions with the Virginia Department of Health to assist with the response to COVID-19 vaccination efforts,” said Governor Northam. “This is an exciting time in the commonwealth and shows that the fight to stop COVID-19 involves all of state government in the trenches.”
Employees are assisting within the Virginia Department of Health Central Office, Roanoke Health District, and Chickahominy Health District, deployed in such positions as data entry, logistics, site assistants, intake managers, and greeters. Others are registered to assist as site managers and public information officers, among other roles.
Developed by the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM), the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness, the Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), and the Department of Social Services (VDSS), the long-term vision for the AEW is to quickly identify qualified state employees and re-deploy them to augment critical staffing needs during declared emergencies.
“Our employees have always been supportive of their communities, whether volunteering for non-profit organizations or donating each year to the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC),” said Emily S. Elliott, DHRM Director. “This is just one more way that they can serve their communities during a time of need.”
“Supporting response and recovery efforts is the responsibility of all state employees during the time of a declared emergency,” said State Coordinator Curtis Brown. “COVID-19 has stretched the capacity of resources and the AEW helps fill in the gaps so that we can better serve the residents of the commonwealth through a whole-of-government approach.”
In September 2019, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 42, which reaffirmed AEW’s role in the commonwealth’s response and recovery capabilities and specifies various state agency AEW roles and responsibilities. To date, 197 state employees have registered with AEW for vaccination efforts and 86 employees for sheltering efforts when necessary.
“We are excited about the response we’ve received from state employees and equally proud to be a partner in supporting the commonwealth’s ongoing emergency response and recovery efforts,” said VDSS Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “Our agency’s commitment to a ‘people first’ culture is not only one of our core values, but clearly a shared mission of other state agencies and employees.”