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30,000 volunteers could be needed in Virginia for possible coronavirus surge

Governor Ralph Northam and state medical leaders put out a call for medical and non-medical volunteers ahead of a possible surge in coronavirus cases in the area.

RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia Department of Health’s Medical Reserve Corps have put out a call for thousands of medical and non-medical volunteers as the state gears up for a possible surge in coronavirus cases.

In an announcement this week, state leaders said Virginia could need as many as 30,000 volunteers to help on the front lines against the disease.

The Department of Health added that students enrolled in medical programs at colleges and universities in the state could particularly be needed.

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"It is a wonderful opportunity for our students to get exposure to all different types of healthcare being provided," Department of Health State Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Freeland said. "It’s an opportunity to learn a different skill and to learn about health as it evolves in an emergency response." 

Freeland said medical volunteers are especially needed for help at long-term care facilities.

Volunteers who sign up for the effort can choose their own schedule and be deployed to an area close to their home.

For people who may have recently lost their job during the economic downturn, Freeland said volunteering could provide valuable experience.

"If they get into being an MRC volunteer and they get deployed and really like it, maybe it’s a different career path for them," she said. 

The state added that non-medical volunteers could help with logistics, communication, technology and other support areas needing help during the pandemic. 

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BETHESDA, Md. - The National Institutes of Health is recruiting as many as 10,000 volunteers to help determine how many adults in the U.S. have antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Volunteers without a confirmed history of coronavirus infection may qualify to take an at-home blood sample, which will then be sent to a lab to be tested for antibodies.

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The call for volunteers came as Virginia hospitals and health care workers have experienced big challenges over the last few weeks.

Aside from a surge in patients coming in battling the coronavirus, the changes to handle the crisis have led to financial shortfalls for medical facilities.

According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, hospitals in the state could lose as much as $600 million during the period between late March and late April.

A spokesman for the group said the losses came as a result of the cancellation of elected procedures and other factors.

With Virginia now potentially needing volunteers if a surge occurs, Freeland said public involvement could play a big role.

"What we want to do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best," she said. "It’s an opportunity to give back to your community." 

For more information on becoming a volunteer, visit this link.

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