ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) says despite some challenges the Blue Ridge Health District faced in the beginning of the vaccine rollout, he’s proud of the progress this team has made as the district heads into phase two next week.
“These health department workers, the volunteers, I saw a lot of student nurses from Piedmont Community College all here helping the community. I got a chance to talk to a lot of folks in line,” Warner said.
Warner visited the old JCPenney store in Albemarle County to see the operation first-hand.
“This is really one of the most effective operations I’ve seen anywhere around the state. There’s a big facility at the racetrack in Richmond, but this is the second biggest facility and frankly this is even a smoother flowing operation than anywhere I’ve seen around the commonwealth,” Warner said.
His trip on Wednesday was met with a lot of questions.
“One of the things I was posing to Denise and her team was are we really making sure that we’re learning best practices because unfortunately in the kind of global environment we live in, this will probably not be the last time we have to deal with a virus, so how do we make sure we get lessons learned?” Warner said.
Warner also presented some solutions after IT problems caused a lot of confusion for Virginia a few months back.
“Obviously there were some screw ups back in January and February. A lot I think as I’ve been probing what were the problems, a lot was with some of the software, especially around scheduling, but my understanding is we hit four million doses across the country on Saturday alone. So, I’m hopeful by the middle of May to early June that we’re kind of even more proactively reaching out for those hard to find Virginians,” Warner said.
BRHD vaccinator Eliece Soebbing says highlighting the district’s work to Warner on Wednesday was gratifying.
“It’s always exciting to have higher-ups come to our facility to really showcase the good work that we do as a staff for the public health and also as our volunteers,” Soebbing said.
Warner also addressed folks who are still on the fence about getting the vaccine.
“Don’t just think about yourself. Think about your family members, think about the people like neighbors that you interact with, think about the people you go to church with. Having that vaccine is going to mean, it’s not only about your own personal safety, but it’s about the safety of those you love and those you interact with every day,” Warner said.
As Virginia gets closer to herd immunity, Warner is optimistic that with community efforts like this one, a new normal is on the horizon.
“You’ve got students from both UVA and Piedmont. You really got the whole community coming together trying to help fellow community members,” Warner said.